children playing

New day care to serve SIAST needs

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lack of childcare seen as educational barrier to some
Adamko, Alanna
Publication Date: 
31 May 2010

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On Aug. 16, a brand-new day care will officially open its doors,
ending the 11 years SIAST Kelsey campus students have waited to have a
day care of their own.

Prior to the construction of the day care, Kelsey hadn't had a
day care since the Idylwyld Child Care Centre closed in 1999.

The day care is part of a provincial and federal funded
$20-million project to renovate and retrofit Mount Royal Collegiate. In
addition to the day care, the Saskatoon Skills and Trade Centre (STSC)
will relocate into the school and five SIAST programs will be held at
Mount Royal.

The south end of Mount Royal Collegiate will continue to be
dedicated to the school's students, with the north end of the school
being dedicated for post-secondary use.

The new day care will provide 62 spaces for SIAST students, STSC
students, SIAST staff and faculty and other community members.

SIAST has also contributed $198,000 to help the day care serve a
secondary purpose as a demonstration centre for the early childhood
education program.

The demonstration centre will have larger-than-standard
child-care rooms to accommodate the extra bodies, as well as observation

Kelsey has made it a priority to have children from six weeks to
five years of age at the day care to give SIAST students the opportunity
to observe children of all ages.

"When we made the decisions around the centre, we kept in mind
what opportunities students needed to develop their skills so they have
the opportunity to experience and work with children in all age groups,"
said Nancy Dill, SIAST Kelsey campus project manager of early childhood

With 5,521 students at Kelsey -- including 2,061 females -- Dill
believes the new day care is long overdue.

"We are certainly seeing a lack of child care as a barrier in
post-secondary programs," she said.

Dill, who was previously involved with programming for the
school's community services division, has seen many women struggle with
the competing demands of child care and post-secondary education.

"Every year we have students that have the ability and potential
but because of lack of child-care arrangements, they have to withdraw
due to stress or simply because they have nobody to take care of the
children," she said.

She thinks it's time for post-secondary institutions to recognize
the changing role of women.

"It's a huge issue. We have not yet acknowledged the changing
role of women and we haven't found a way to help families to look after
both their family and education obligations."

She said the lack of day care is increasingly affecting both male
and female students, with the current trend of mature students
returning for post-secondary education.

"I've been working at SIAST for 30 years and we have a different
student demographic than when I first started. At the beginning, most of
the students were direct entry from high school. Now we have a higher
percentage of older students with family obligations," she said.

She sees day care as a barrier for student success, with a recent
SIAST study revealing this is particularly true for First Nations and
Metis students.

With SIAST recruiting more First Nations and Metis students than
any other post-secondary institution in Saskatoon, she believes it's
important this barrier be removed.

She said it's time post-secondary organizations better recognize
and support the needs of students.

- reprinted from the StarPheonix