AMS will save spots for student parents in new SUB childcare

Veronika Bondarenko, The Ubyssey

A rooftop childcare centre designed to meet the needs of student parents will be one of the new services offered by at the new Student Union Building (SUB), slated for completion in 2014.

UBC Childcare’s full-day programs are an invaluable resource for many university-affiliated families. However, the need for a part-time childcare service that gives students with changing schedules greater flexibility has continued to increase.

“The AMS recognizes the need for more childcare for students on campus,” said AMS VP Administration Mike Silley. “As such, we have not only committed one million dollars to fund capital childcare projects on campus, but we also saw an opportunity to create a dedicated space for child-care in the new SUB.”

Darcelle Cottons, Director for UBC Childcare Services said the AMS decided to have the service operated by UBC Childcare. However, the AMS childcare centre will differ substantially by the number of spaces it offers, a faster turn-over rate, and will be reserved for students’ children specifically.

As the first ever “Occasional Care” centre, it will limit the amount of time any given child can spend at the centre to no more than eight hours a day and forty hours a month.

This way, the centre will be able to accommodate more children over a shorter period of time. Adhering to BC Licensing, this childcare centre will hold a maximum of 16 children at a time.

While details are still being finalized, this childcare program is, according to Cottons, meant to operate as a short term service that will allow parents to register their children online.

“This service is intended as a part-time service to meet a variety of university family needs,” said Cottons.

“For example, a student attend classes every Monday for a term could register their three year old child for Mondays. Or another family could use the service full-time for one week a month. There are dozens of ways the service could meet the needs of families accessing the university, and attendance will be based on first-come first served with students given first priority.”

Jamie Paris, Graduate Student Society (GSS) rep on the AMS, said that while the GSS is only having initial discussions about organizing childcare he said it was the GSS which stressed the creation of the AMS centre. “We pushed the AMS to have that space and we pushed them to make sure that space stayed as large as possible.”

Perhaps more-so than the undergraduate demographic, graduates have particular interest in student-only childminding space.

“If you look at my inbox and you ask what are important the two most important issues, they’re childcare and housing,” Paris said

“It’s time of life when having a family is a reality. Right now UBC is unable to fill the demand, and someone needs to.”…

Since program space is limited, many applicants are wait-listed. According to Cottons, “toddler aged children are currently waiting 18-24 months for services and yet for three and four-year-olds the list can be as short at six months depending on the time of year you apply.”….

And from here, Paris said, “it’s better to have more pressure on the GSS and the AMS [for more childcare options]… we both need to look in the mirror and think, ‘are we doing enough?’”

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