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January 24, 2002 Daycare crunch intensified by faculty renewal



by Barbara Black

New faculty members Bart Simon and Jill Didur are not expecting until March, but their baby is already on the waiting list for the daycare centre on the Loyola campus.

Debra Brind’amour can tell them all about it. Her Mateo has been on the list for two years. He’s now two years, four months old, and being cared for by a babysitter who comes to his home.

Centre de la Petite Enfance les P’tits Profs has a waiting list of more than 250 children, so Brenda MacDonald, who is co-director with Sandra Chang, doesn’t hold out much hope. “We only graduate about a dozen children every year, because they stay until they are old enough to go to kindergarten,” she explained.

The daycare centre, located in a large house on Belmore Ave. just east of the campus, is homey, well equipped and highly regarded, but with room for only 48 children, it’s too small to meet the demand.

As CUFA representative in his department, Simon has seen a substantial increase in university teachers in their 30s. Typically, they have just finished their doctorates, they’re in a relationship, and they’re ready to start a family. “Within the next four or five years, there’s going to be quite the backlog,” he said.

Juggling home life and preparing for tenure can be difficult, and he thinks it’s in the university’s long-term interest to make things go smoothly for new faculty members.

“Making sure that our home life is stable provides an indirect payoff for the university. It could be an important part of its general growth plan.”

Brind’amour, who has interviewed and researched many daycare providers, says she’s happy with the care Mateo gets at home and admits that it makes it easy for her to get out to work in the morning, but she’s envious of the camaraderie and socialization her little boy is missing by not being with other children his age. “It’s a wonderful little daycare,” she added wistfully.

Looking to expand

The P’tits Profs takes advantage of university resources, using Loyola’s skating rink, gym and dance facilities, and providing internships for students in the early childhood education program.

It is a cooperative, run by an active board of parents. Together with the directors, they put together a business plan last year aimed at convincing the university of the need for expansion into another Loyola building.

However, current construction has made the space crunch at Loyola tighter than ever. Instead, the board has proposed building a second daycare facility nearby, and the university is considering its options.

The P’tits Profs started in 1984 at the initiative of staff members. Half the spaces are reserved for the children of staff members, one-quarter for the children of faculty, and one-quarter for the children of students.

If another daycare centre were built, these priorities would be reversed: half the spaces for faculty, one-quarter for staff and one-quarter for students. That’s because of the influx of young faculty members.

Concordia also has a downtown daycare centre, and it, too, has a long waiting list.
Brind’amour is Assistant to the Dean of Arts and Science. “We’re hiring a lot of new professors for next academic year. Most of them have young families and are from outside Quebec. What do we tell them?”