The University of Victoria’s proposed cancellation of out-of-school care service, which currently serves 46 children, has drawn the ire of many parents.
A current UVic proposal will expand the child care services for children under five, but at the cost of cancelling the out-of-school-care for children who currently use it. UVic’s Child Care Services are designated for the elementary aged children of UVic students, staff and faculty.
The move comes as UVic will put $1.685 million into an expansion of its CCS facility, growing the infant, toddler and three- to five-year-old programs, which have longer waitlists than the out-of-school-care program.
“One of the arguments from parents who have children in afterschool care is that we’re eliminating a program for current [daycare children who will grow up], and we don’t disagree, but there’s a critical need for room for the younger students,” said Jim Forbes, director of campus services.
The money will lead to a physical upgrade of the Centre 6 building on Finnerty Road, where infants, toddlers, three- to five-year-olds and elementary-aged children all receive care.
For Jonathan Faerber, a parent with two kids that attend Campus View elementary in the UVic afterschool program, it will mean finding spots for them elsewhere, which is extremely difficult, he said.
“I work [here] full time, so if we can’t [replace the care] I’d have to consider quitting my job, or my wife might have to scale back on her studies, so there’s a lot of problems,” said Faerber, who is researching full time for his masters in philosophy. “It creates stress and frustration, we have no idea where the kids are going to go next year.”
Faerber also has a two-year-old and an infant, and the two-year-old has been on a waitlist for three years (since he was prenatal) to get into UVic child care. However, his elder children also waited years to get into the program, and next year Faerber and his wife could face three, or four, different drop-off and pick-up spots.
The proposal to cancel the elementary-aged afterschool care isn’t cemented yet, but it’s likely. In the meantime there is an active consultation going on, Forbes said.
The decision is based on analysis that the afterschool care only uses the facility from 3 to 5:30 p.m. each day, leaving it empty the rest of the day. By repurposing it for infants to five-year-olds (pre-kindergarten), UVic would add 50,000 hours of child care next year.
“I don’t know what will happen at July 1 next year,” Forbes said. “We’ve had three meetings in depth with the parental advisory board [which represents different parenting groups from UVic] and during that process we got the full gamut of feedback from positive to negative. We didn’t go into it eyes closed. There was positive and negative feedback.”
The decision to end the child care program on campus comes despite the objections of a statement the parent advisory board posted in June.
One of the issues that Faerber pointed out is not UVic’s fault at all. Rather, it’s B.C.’s lack of infrastructure for out-of-school care. Schools are left to provide their own care, often through parent volunteers or businesses which work with the school but as a complementary program.
Sometimes it’s volunteers, sometimes non-profit models, often with money raised by the efforts of the Parent Advisory Councils.
“In B.C. there is no model for out-of-school care, but there are rules stopping you from entering your children into the out-of-school care for another school,” said Faerber,
At UVic, there are two elementary schools within close proximity to the UVic campus, Frank Hobbs and Campus View. Both have students whose parents attend UVic as faculty, staff or as adult students. However, neither have room to add children to their out-of-school programs.
Frank Hobbs already has a waitlist for 2017’s out-of-school care program. Campus View’s out-of-school care is full and won’t open registration for the 2017-18 school year until Feb. 1, and based on the past few years, it also expects to have a waitlist as it has very limited space.
As a reference point, the University of B.C. has two elementary schools on its campus, and offers out-of-school care for 135 children through UBC Child Care Services. SFU is similar.
But the costs are adding up to a point where UVic has to make a decision, Forbes said.
“There is a critical need for infant care, toddler care, and 3-to-5, and infant and toddler are the most critical need, followed by 3-to-5, with the lowest demand being for kindergarten,” he said. “In the last five years UVic has spent $500,000 to rebuild the CCS playground and replace the roof, and that all comes from central funds.”
The annual budget is $500,000 for the CCS, which comes from UVic’s central budget, and with $1.685 million of new funds, it brings it to a total of $4.8 million in the last five years, Forbes said.
All that said, Forbes says no decisions will be made until the consultation process is done.
“It will give us a clearer path what that state will look like on July 1. We’re planning for both outcomes [that it will stay, or be cancelled],” he said.