CSU Drop-In Daycare Receives Government Funding

Union Hopes to Make Student Parent Life Easier

The Concordia Student Union’s new drop-in centre has received government funding. File Photo Elisa Barbier

For the past four years, the Concordia Student Union Daycare and Nursery has been a key resource for Concordia students and community members in need of childcare.

However, due to its structure, it couldn’t accommodate all parents’ wishes. To improve childcare access at Concordia, the CSU has been working on opening a drop-in centre.

On Dec. 20, 2022, the union received $150,000 in funding from the Quebec government meant for the creation of a drop-in service for student parents in need.

Fawaz Halloum, the CSU’s general coordinator, said this was a project very near and dear to his heart. Last year, he tried to enroll his toddler in the CSU’s daycare, but due to its structure, it didn’t fit with his student lifestyle. “I took advantage of the fact that I'm in a position of power where I can bring a change and gave attention to parents like myself,” said Halloum. 

Angela Meo, the CSU Daycare and Nursery director, expressed her excitement about the new developments in the near future. “This is a project that student parents have been long awaiting that's going to be offered at Concordia,” explained Meo.

The drop-in service will allow parents to drop off their children at a location downtown for two to six hours while their parents finish up their lectures. This service will be separate from the CSU Daycare and Nursery, which has been operating for four years. 

The difference between the two services is the amount of time the children are left in the care of the respective organizations. The daycare operates for six to nine hours a day, providing children with lunch, snacks, and activities. However, due to this style of care, the daycare can’t offer drop-in services. “There's more of a routine established in the daycare,” explained Meo “There's a nap time and activities, whereas a drop-in center is more of two to six-hour service,” she said.

With the help of Meo, the Concordia University Student Parent Centre, a few mentors and encouraging CSU staff, the subsidy grant was filed and approved. The grant will be distributed in two, with $49,014 allocated for the Winter 2023 semester and $95,000 for the 2023-2024 school year. In addition, $10,000 were granted by the Quebec government for start-up costs like furniture and toys. 

The grant will cover operating expenses like rent and overhead costs, however, it won’t make the daycare completely free. “There will be a small fee for parents because there will be operating costs. We'll have to hire a coordinator and educators. Essentially the day-to-day costs,” Meo said. At this time, that amount is unknown, however, according to Meo, it won’t be an inaccessible sum.

In addition, the drop-in centre will utilize both the funds and parents’ fees to operate. This means that students who do not use this service will not pay fees.

To make daycare services as accessible as possible, CUSP works to help student parents with all their questions and concerns. Sumaiya Gangat, the coordinator at CUSP said the new developments will encourage parents to take advantage of the resources provided. 

“We will see more student parents that will hang out at the university, helping to create the community that we have always tried to build for them,” said Gangat. “A supportive, caring, welcoming place for the community to gather and share resources, ideas and advice,” she continued. 

Most recently, the drop-in centre was in the process of signing a lease for a new space. It will most likely be located at the corner of St. Mathieu St. and de Maisonneuve Blvd. For now, the centre will only be available on the downtown campus but may expand to Loyola in the future, Meo told The Link.

Although the drop-in daycare is facilitated and managed by the CSU, it still carries the university's name. Vannina Maestracci, Concordia’s spokesperson, stated that due to a lack of suitable space on campus that meets the requirements of a drop-in daycare, Facilities Management introduced the CSU to “a company specializing in locating daycare spaces to help them identify options near campus.”

According to Meo, Concordia provided the CSU with a contact to a broker, but that is all the effort the university made. The broker’s services didn’t end up being used because it would have cost $5,000. This seemed like an unjustifiable expense, so Meo took the task into her own hands. 

Halloum affirmed that the drop-in centre was a grassroots project, fully managed by the CSU, the daycare and CUSP. They didn’t receive any help from Concordia board members or senior executives. “If anything, there was a little bit of negativity thrown onto the whole idea,” said Halloum. 

The drop-in centre will open in two months, ready to welcome children and help out the Concordia student parent body. As the opening day approaches, the CSU, CUSP, and the drop-in centre are looking forward to providing accessible childcare to Concordia's community of student parents.

A previous version of the article stated the university had jurisdiction over the daycare. The Link regrets this error.

This article originally appeared in Volume 43, Issue 10, published January 24, 2023.