Child care consultations underway, but time running short for parents

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Controversy has grown after UVic announced the closure of the After School Care program as part of renovations to the Child Care Complex on June 28. Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor

With the fate of Centre 6 still undetermined, parents are running out of time to make important decisions for their child’s care. File photo by Belle White, Photo Editor

A parent knows how important time is.

It’s why LeAnne Golinsky is early to my interview with her. It’s only 9 a.m., but Golinsky has already dropped off her two kids and bought a coffee, ready now to speak with wide-eyed passion about an issue close to home — saving her children’s child-care program.

Golinsky says uncertainty surrounding the future of the ASC program makes life difficult for students and faculty members.

“We’ve got grad students that are now trying to make decisions on whether or not they can study next year, based on whatever it is that might happen,” says Golinsky. “You’ve got faculty trying to figure out, ‘am I going to have to leave work at 2:30 everyday?’

“It’s very hard to make contingency plans when you know nothing about what your fate is going to be.”

Consultations regarding the future of UVic’s After School Care (ASC) program began earlier this month on Jan. 9. The program is set to close in five months, creating time constraints that are compounding parents’ concerns.

UVic made its decision to close Centre 6 — the building the ASC program operates out of — in June 2016, after two months of discussions within UVic Child Care Services and with the UVic Child Care Parent Advisory Board. The ASC program’s 48 part-time spaces for children aged six to 12 were to be replaced with 40 full-time spaces for Centre 5, a full-day child-care program for children aged three to five.

Although the university was originally firm in its decision to close the program, it suspended the closure date after a flurry of concerns from parents like Golinsky, who is a member of the UVic Child Care Alliance (UCCA), a group of parents committed to seeing Centre 6 stay open.

In a letter to the Ring, UVic’s news service, published in July 2016, the UCCA condemned what they considered “a lack of consultation and transparency” in the university’s decision to close the centre without asking parents for their input.

Following the backlash, the university agreed to consult with the Faculty Association (FA) to discuss potential solutions. However, that first meeting didn’t take place until Jan. 9, 2017, seven months after UVic’s original announcement.

The meetings include a representative from the UCCA, two from the FA, and three from UVic administration and Faculty.

Both UVic and the FA said that it’s too early in the consultations for any developments worth reporting, but Golinsky says all parties are committed to resolving the issue as soon as possible.

“People are very motivated to get something decided before the end of February,” says Golinsky, “because I think the university certainly recognizes and we [the Child Care Alliance] have pushed out enough information to say . . . that time is of the essence.”

In an email statement, Jim Forbes, director of Campus Services, said UVic appreciates the patience of those involved.

“UVic is dedicated to providing high-quality care to children enrolled in Child Care Services,” the statement reads. “The university is hopeful that consultations with the Faculty Association will help achieve our goal of having a solution in place as soon as possible.”

UVic cited longer wait list times for three- to five-year-old full-time care as reason enough for transforming its child care services, but critics of the decision claim UVic did not appropriately consult with parents nor fully explore all child-care options before deciding to close the ASC program.

Forbes said last July that while the “difficult decision” would disrupt some families, it would provide an “important lifeline” for others.

No matter the reason, Golinsky says that with a decision looming on the horizon, the threat of a closure has already affected those in Centre 6.

“You’ve got union employees who are going to be losing their jobs . . . You’ve got casual employees that have not even been officially given notice that the centre’s going to close. You’ve got parents that don’t know what is that they’re going to do. You’ve got grad students that can’t make plans. It’s really an upheaval,” she says.

The next meeting takes place tomorrow. After that, all involved will have five months to make a decision before the program’s scheduled closure this June.

Correction: A previous version of this article said LeAnne Golinsky was a founding member of the UVic Child Care Alliance. She is in fact just a member, not a founder. We regret the error. 

We also qualified a statement from Jim Forbes as being made last July. 

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  • ouruvccs

    My understanding is that the discussions with the PAB took place within two weeks. Also, the proposal replaces 48 part-day spaces with 32 full-day spaces. It is a real pity that UVIC did not avoid harming these children. The children have relationships with each other and the staff, and they are powerless to do anything for themselves, even though they are directly affected by this issue. The way UVIC is keeping their future a secret from them, just so that they can get their way, is irresponsible and immoral.

  • LeAnne Golinsky

    I am working hard to research options for my child should the University proceed with its plan to close the After School Care program, so as I reach out and contact those programs that may be suitable (considering location, reasonable transportation distance if there is no pick up service available, and a good fit for my child) I am not being left with overwhelming feelings of hope. When I dropped off an application for an after school care program this morning (at a school where my child is not enrolled), I was told that the long standing arrangement is that the children that use the after school care there are enrolled at that school. I posed the question that even if I was willing to absorb the transportation to the after school care program, from his current school, would they be willing to accept this? I was told this is not possible. This is NOT the first time I have been told this. I have gotten the same response from at least two other programs…
    So, not only is this cutting down on MY options as to how the heck I am going to have to absorb this into my work life, it now has the potential of impacting WHERE my child goes to school?? Am I going to be faced with the decision about having to enrol my child at another school depending on where I get after school care?? How is that even ethical that I am being faced with this? I am not amused. My child, his success in his current school and his inclusion comes first.

    • children on the edge

      Sigh. I lined up to register my kid who starts K in Sept yesterday morning, too. Even though I got there at 3am there were over ten people in front of me. Some were UVic students just like me. The guy who was first in line apparently was there since the afternoon.
      If UVic would keep their ASC it would help not only us students but it would help the other community members who need ASC as well by reducing competition for these coveted ASC spots. The university isn’t helping anybody by getting rid of ASC.