by Iryn Tushabe
Academic programs are not the only part of campus suffering from lack of resources.
The waiting list at the University of Regina’s day care facilities are so long that most students won’t even get in before they graduate.
“Currently our waiting list is 300 to 500 families, which may have more than one child,” said Sheila Pelletier, executive director of Oasis Childcare, one of the two daycares operating on campus.
Oasis daycare is licensed for children between the ages of 18 months to 12 years of age and only has a total of 45 childcare spaces available for students attending U of R and First Nations University of Canada. This includes staff and faculty members of both campuses. Funding for the campus child care centres is provided by the university and the U of R Students’ Union.
Both Oasis and Wascana Childcare Co-ops are sharing a building leased from the university. Wascana Childcare takes children from the ages of 18 months to five years old. Like Oasis Childcare, Wascana only has 45 spaces available with a waiting list that's just as long.
Back in 2008, Pelletier wrote a proposal to the ministry of education to expand her daycare facility and it was approved.
However, Pelletier said she couldn’t find a space on campus to build the new daycare in time.
“There wasn’t enough time to wait around for a physical space to open up on campus because we had a timeline. I got the call in July of 2008 and had to have my doors open by March 2009 so to wait for a physical space to open up on campus and then start building from ground up would have been too rushed a job,” the director explained.
Pelletier did not want to forfeit the grant so she used the funds to build another daycare in Emerald park, nine kilometres east of Regina.
The Emerald Park Childcare filled its 90 allotted spots within a year, with children aging from six weeks to 18 months. Many of its clientele are university students.
And for good reason.
“When the student’s child is 18 months I put them in Oasis childcare on campus - so they have priority on the wait list. That's how our policies work. If you come in here we’ll get you in there and you have to wait it out but you’ll get in quicker so they come in here, they do the drive,” said Pelletier.
While some students have been waiting close to five years for a child care spot, others are more lucky.
Second-year business administration student Rebekah Hove put her son on the waiting list when he was just 8 months old. While waiting for a spot to open up for her son, Hove enrolled him in a daycare in the city's north end.
It was 18 months before Hove's son was was accepted into one of the university daycares. Hove was excited when she got the call.
“I’m now saving at least $150 bucks on driving back and forth to the north end and I’m also not having to wake up at 5:40 AM everyday to get to school on time,” she said.