Saturday, February 17, 2018

Student parents say campus childcare at Camosun costly, long waitlists

February 4, 2015 by Jeremy Vargas, contributing writer

Prices are high and waitlists long for Camosun students wanting to send their children to the college’s Child Care Services centres, according to some student parents.

Derek Robertson is a student of the Sport Management program who says that utilizing the college’s Child Care Services was not feasible for him.

“We can barely afford to go to school,” says Robertson. “So to try and pay for our daughter to be in Child Care Services would probably be too much money, and I could not afford going to school.”

Lisa Stekelenburg is the manager of Child Care Services at Camosun (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Lisa Stekelenburg is the manager of Child Care Services at Camosun (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

Students pay $1,085 a month for infants (newborn to 18 months) and toddlers (19 to 35 months) and $810 for children three to five years old to attend the college’s Child Care Services. These costs don’t include snacks or lunches, which the parents have to provide. (Parents can apply for a government subsidy, which will pay for a percentage of the fees if they are eligible.)

“We price our fees based on the quality of care we offer in our centres and in the marketplace,” says Lisa Stekelenburg, manager of Child Care Services at Camosun. “We are a best-practice facility and we are respected in the community at large for the practice that we offer in our centres.”

Stekelenburg says that Camosun Child Care Services, along with the Camosun College Student Society, tries to help students who are unable to pay for such costs through bursaries.

“Every year about $12,000-$14,000 is given away in bursaries to students,” says Stekelenburg. “We had 38 applications for bursaries this fall, and I am proud to say all of them, except for one that was ineligible, are getting a bursary.”

But according to Chelsea Dunbar, a student of the Environmental Technology program and mother of an 18-month-old, applying for bursaries isn’t a realistic expectation for some student parents.

“I barely have time to do my homework, let alone look for bursaries for 10 hours on the weekend,” says Dunbar. “So if there was just more help for finding the resources for parents, that would be ideal.”

Dunbar is also concerned with the long waitlist for the Child Care Services program. She says she applied for their services at the Lansdowne campus, but after being waitlisted for four months, she was only offered a spot at Camosun’s alternate campus, Interurban. After declining the spot, Dunbar removed herself from the waitlist and applied to another daycare.

“I would have liked to go to Camosun because of having my daughter close,” says Dunbar. “But by the time I’m done my schooling, that’s when I would get my daughter in there.”

Interurban has space for eight infants (aged newborn to 18 months), each campus has eight spaces for toddlers (aged 19 to 35 months), and there are 16 spaces at Lansdowne and 24 at Interurban for children aged three to five. Stekelenburg says that students fill 70Đ75 percent of these spaces every year. Any application will be submitted to a waitlist, but the length of the waitlist can vary depending on the number of applicants and spaces that are provided.

“It’s not only our problem that we have a waitlist,” says Stekelenburg. “It’s the greater community at large of childcare in BC that has extensive waitlists.”

Stekelenburg says she understands the challenges of being a student and a parent. She hopes that Camosun’s Child Care Services acts as an advocate for student parents at the college.

“We see the parents as our greatest heroes,” says Stekelenburg. “They are working really hard to get ahead, and we want to try and support them as much as possible in succeeding in their education, and also as parents.”

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