The importance of K-W child care services
I often suspect that every university student, myself included, has thought fearfully about the unknowns associated with graduating, joining the real world, paying all the bills, starting a career and transitioning into a ‘real adult.’ Some young graduates face the prospect of starting careers and families, but how can they balance the two?
A lot of this is reliant on the Waterloo Region, who assists with administering child care services.
As a whole, it is important to first recognize the benefits of providing access to child care has to the individual, the community and the Region.
Access to good, affordable child care ensures that both parents can continue building their careers while raising children, thus ensuring a stronger local and national economy.
The Waterloo area must continue to develop affordable child care for the good of our students.
Recent graduates and young professionals may start to make a household income that would rank them among the middle classes, but large student debt loads and new child care costs may negate these financial advantages.
For lower and middle class families, the Region of Waterloo provides child care subsidies to help offset associated costs.
According to the Waterloo Region Record in 2015, there are over 3,100 subsidized child care spots and no waitlist for applying to receive a child care subsidy.
This is where the region does a good job.
Despite this, I think there are several areas that can be improved to the benefit of our students.
Getting access to a child care subsidy is wonderful; it eases the strain on parents and allows them the opportunity to place their children in a positive and enriching environment.
I think the best way to ensure this quality is to provide a significant number of government-run child care facilities in the Waterloo Region, which would ensure a high standard of care for children that cannot be guaranteed by unlicensed facilities.
Unfortunately, there is a current lack of child care spots available in these government run facilities. Not only this, but the 2015 article also showed that a review suggested closing 5 regional child care centres.
In order to ensure high quality child care positions, it is imperative that we advocate for the Waterloo Region to increase the number of available child care spots in government-run facilities, not close them.
Examining the accessibility of child care to students, I don’t have to look far. It should be noted that Laurier has a partnership to offer child care spots with a child care facility.
Student access to these services becomes problematic after the child is over five-years-old, but this case highlights an inherent barrier to child care.
Child care must be universally available for current students pursuing their university careers.
The five-year age limit for child care benefits can be particularly problematic for certain groups of students, such as mature or graduate students, thus imposing a potential barrier to achieving their university education.
There is also the barrier of limited opening hours present in both private and government-run facilities.
With the slow erosion of the traditional 9-5 work culture, especially for students that work evening or night shifts, it is imperative that child care facilities within the Waterloo Region adopt more flexible hours to better accommodate students and young professionals.
Overall, the Waterloo Region’s child care policy must find ways to continue to improve. They must strive to provide child care facilities at an affordable rate at flexible times.
While this may not affect the majority of Laurier undergraduate students, the future is never too far away.