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Children matter: Equity and childcare on campus

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Author: 
Prentice, Susan
Publication Date: 
10 Feb 2010
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Childcare politics are again a hot issue on Canadian campuses. In late November, a coalition of faculty, students and staff dissuaded the University of Victoria Board of Governors from signing a contract with the commercial childcare chain Kids and Company, although it is on other campuses. In northern Manitoba, at the University College of the North, the administration is proceeding to build two state of the art childcare centres at the Thompson and the Pas sites. In September, Ryerson University held a conference on the role of early childhood education and care services as 'lab schools.' Over May 21 and 22, 2010 a national student's organization will host 'It Takes a University: Childcare and Postsecondary Education' in Vancouver.

This kind of interest and activity is long-overdue. It has been 40 years since the Royal Commission on the Status of Women recommended a national daycare system, and 25 years since Rosalie Abella's Royal Commission on Equality in Employment proclaimed "child care is the ramp that provides equal access to the workforce for mothers."

Post-secondary educational institutions have strong reasons to see early learning and care as essential campus services. One place to begin is with students. Today, about one in ten post-secondary students is a parent, who must juggle school and family caregiving (Lero, Smit Quosai, & Van Rhijn, 2007). The challenge is even more difficult for Aboriginal learners; almost one-third of Aboriginal university students have children, as do almost half of Aboriginal college students.

A recent parliamentary committee report on Aboriginal students finds "family duties and financial insecurity" are the two most powerful deterrents of their success. Thus, if universities and colleges want to accommodate student parents and become more welcoming to Aboriginal students, their campus childcare programs are as important as their libraries for learners.

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Entered Date: 
10 Feb 2010
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