The Aquinian

Affordable childcare hard to find

Finding affordable daycare isn’t child’s play (Cara Smith/AQ)

Caroline Nolin is in her first year at St. Thomas University and has a six-year-old son. After school, he goes to Au P’tit Monde de Franco daycare. For the 17 hours he spends there each week, Nolin has to pay $300 per month. For two semesters, the amount adds up to $2,400 – about half of a year’s tuition at STU and an amount not easily affordable for a student, even with a full-time job.

When it comes to daycare, parents have to dig deep into their pockets and most have to put their names on long waiting lists. For undergraduate students with children at St Thomas University, the waiting time can take longer than half of their degree.

“It is hard to find a proper day care and an affordable one,” Nolin said.

“Without [governmental] help at the beginning and now from my son’s father, I would not be able to afford it.”

Nolin said she used to get help from social assistance. The governmental day care assistance program checks how much parents and guardians make annually. If they qualify for the program, they will receive a certain amount of money and only have to pay the difference.

Mindy McMinniman from Kids Korral Day Care in Fredericton said five of the parents bringing their children to her day care are students.

“We have children’s tuition fees sometimes subsidized by the government for low-income families,” McMinniman said, adding that around 20 per cent of her clients are on low income.

According to a government brochure, the cutoff for grant money is a monthly net income of $3,500 and more. CBC reported in June that Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Jody Carr said the New Brunswick Government will add 10,000 new childcare spaces along with an injection of $4.4 million to the Day Care Assistance Program.
Families with a yearly income of up to $30,000 would then be eligible for full childcare funding.

Carr was unable to comment on this before our deadline.

Many day cares in New Brunswick have long waiting lists. When St. Thomas University student Desiree Hill looked for a day care for her five-year-old son, some waiting lists were as long as two and a half years. She didn’t have to put her name on a list when she brought her son to Regent Daycare.

“I chose this daycare because it was in a great location: close to school and home,” Hill said.

Another day care close to STU is The College Hill Daycare Cooperative. It aims “to provide campus-based child care … for the communities of the University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University.” Giving priority to STU and UNB students, staff and faculty, the waiting time is 2.5 to three years. Members of the larger Fredericton community have to wait even longer.

Parents who want to place their child in a francophone environment also have to wait two years before bringing their child to Au P’tit Monde de Franco. Caroline Nolin was lucky. Since she worked at her son’s daycare, they took him as a priority. Concerning students and the rates in day cares, Nolin said, “I think it’s too pricey and it is probably why parents don’t often go back to school.”

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