Editorial: The CSU’s Daycare Is Open… Finally!

New Service Meets a Crucial Need for Student Parents

Back in 2015, The Link commended the Concordia Student Union’s initiative to open up a CSU-run daycare for student parents in an editorial, starting off by saying: “It’s not often that The Link’s editorial staff can unequivocally endorse a Concordia Student Union project, but the promising trajectory of the CSU-run daycare project gives us hope that unicorns really do exist.”

Now four years later, that hopefulness our predecessors had for the completion of the project feels just a tad too trusting, given the frequently delayed and, towards the end, seemingly hushed process of setting up a daycare.

Unicorns, apparently, might still be too good to be true.

The daycare is finally ready for business, launching with a grand opening event on Jan. 29 where students can come visit the space, meet the staff and representatives, and register their children if they so choose.

The project has been in the talks since 2011, after the Concordia University Student Parents Centre and the Dean of Students published a research paper titled “Student Parents and Their Children: How can we help them? An analysis of the student parent experience at Concordia University.”

In January 2016, former CSU Academic and Advocacy Coordinator Marion Miller boasted that “it’s moving ahead. We’ll have the little babies in there soon.” Soon apparently meant three years later.

In fall 2017, it was set to open in March 2018. Six months later, the CSU pushed the opening to fall 2018. They finally opened their doors this January.

Still, the fact that the project is finally coming to a close after years of planning and working, through referendums and drawing plans, is something to celebrate.

There is a lack of daycare services at Concordia available for students. Although they had two daycares prior to the opening of the CSU-run daycare, Centre de la Petite Enfance
Concordia (located downtown) and Centre de la Petite Enfance P’tits Profs (in NDG), there is limited space. At the downtown location there’s only 80 available spaces.

According to CUSP’s research, almost 75 per cent of parents at Concordia have more than one child who are of daycare or primary school age. The same research showed some of the challenges they face include financial precarity, childcare, and balancing being a parent with academics.

The report also highlights that the majority of student parents are single mothers and are therefore responsible for performing an overwhelming amount of domestic work, an unpaid and undervalued form of labour, as a sole caregiver to their children.

These challenges place single parents in a precarious position, and campus resources are fundamental to their success at school.

The CSU’s initiative is not a first for Montreal universities. The Students’ Society of McGill University also runs a daycare for undergraduate students, on top of the school’s own daycare for students, faculty and staff. Université du Québec à Montréal has three daycares available, and the Fédération des associations étudiantes du campus de l’Université de Montréal also runs a daycare for students.

We hope that the long awaited opening of the daycare will alleviate the pressures these students face, and provide them with a positive platform to prosper. The campus daycare poses a positive step in helping lessen the burden and making Concordia a more accessible institution.

Despite the time and delays it took to set up the CSU daycare and the missed opportunities that caused for student parents for the past four years, the effort deserves to be recognized.

Student parents should not be disadvantaged academically because they also have children, and the daycare meets a need that was largely ignored.