by Elise Thomsen
Maegan Gardner rises long before the sun, every morning of the week, and prepares herself for a busy day. It really gets hectic when her three-year-old daughter, Shania, wakes up. “We leave the house…well, we aim for eight o’clock. We never leave until about 8:15 or 8:30,” said Gardner, laughing.
Gardner isn’t just an active mom though. She’s a second year human justice student at the University of Regina. She transferred here this fall after completing a college course in Ontario.
Shania was on a waitlist for the Awasis Child Care Cooperative before she ever arrived in Regina. In March 2010, when she visited the university to finalize her enrolment, she added her daughter’s name to the waitlist for the Wascana Day Care Cooperative, the other child care facility on campus.
One week before classes started, Gardner discovered Wascana had a place for Shania. Both of the centers provide subsidized care with a convenient on-campus location.
“It’s good she got into the daycare here because it’s easier,” Gardner said. At Wascana, Gardner would be expected to pay $495 per month without subsidies. With subsidies she pays only $90. “It helps a lot,” she said.
Gardner feels many moms on campus rely on childcare services and, without them, wouldn’t be able to complete their degrees. She wouldn’t be able to study full-time without subsidized day care, but wouldn’t qualify for funding from her reserve if she studied part-time.
Not all children get a place at the two centres on campus though. Iryn Tushabe, a third year film and video production student, wants her 21-month-old daughter, Precious, to get into in one of the centres on campus. Tushabe gets up at 6:30 on mornings she has classes to have enough time to drive Precious to a home day care before going to school.
“I have been on the waiting list for more than a year and a half and that seems quite extreme to me,” Tushabe wrote in an email. She feels that more childcare places on campus would really help parenting students achieve the goals they are already working hard towards. “I have to push myself to do better both in school and pretty much everything I do because I don't want to ever have to blame her for my failures,” wrote Tushabe.
“Eighteen years ago we were desperate to find kids. There are so many waiting now,” said Grace Priebe, a special needs carer at Awasis. She said over 150 children are on the waitlist. The centre is licensed for 45 children. She estimated 37 of the kids in the centre are children of students, and added that students’ children get priority for enrolment.
Another way to create a more family friendly campus is family housing. “I was actually going to apply to Mount Royal University because they have family housing,” said Gardner.
“(Family housing) is definitely on the screen,” said Barb Pollock, vice-president of external relations at the U of R, but “no time line has been set for those elements”. There are housing areas mapped out in the Master Plan for the next 20 years. Some space is set aside for student residences, but the type of housing to be provided is yet to be determined. Pollock said housing plans will be made according to the funding available and students needs.
Parenting students like Gardner and Tushabe hope family housing and more childcare facilities will be in those plans.
Pictured Top Left: Maegan Gardner and her daughter Shania Fox.
Photo by Elise Thomsen.