By Marc Venema
The sounds of children laughing and playing at Loyalist College’s Centre for Early Childhood Education will fall deaf this summer when the doors are officially closed.
Loyalist College President Maureen Piercy, announced this past week that due to financial concerns, the daycare at the college would be closed for good at the end of June.
Piercy said funding from the recent provincial budget was lower than expected. As a result, the daycare will be closing.
“It’s a superb child-care centre, but we have had financial challenges for some time and its come to a point where it’s not sustainable.” Piercy said.
“The college is not funded to run a daycare centre, we are funded to run academic programs.”
Piercy said despite the loss, the early childhood education (ECE) program at the college will continue.
“We will work with our faculty and community child-care partners to make adjustments as needed to make sure we continue to offer an excellent ECE program.” Piercy said.
Students and staff in the ECE program run the daycare, which has enough space for 49 children. Not only is the daycare available for staff and students, but community members are also welcome.
Among the many families the closure will have an impact on is Cathy Falcone, a technologist for the TVNM program at the college.
Falcone has been bringing her two-year-old daughter to the daycare for the past year.
“It’s been extremely convenient,” Falcone said. “I walk her into the next room basically, my office is just around the corner.”
Falcone said while the convenience of dropping her daughter off a few doors down from her office will be missed, it’s the bonding time that will be missed the most.
“I love driving with my daughter in the car,” Falcone said. “We talk about her day, we talk about the morning.”
Falcone said she’ll miss the friendly faces that greet her and her daughter every morning at the centre.
“I’m going to miss everybody over there,” Falcone said. “My daughter loves them.”
Falcone, along with many others must now find other arrangements for daycare come the end of June, when the centre is officially closed.
“I have to scatter to get on a waiting list I guess.” Falcone said.
Piercy said the announcement was made now to allow families some time to find new daycare centres that they are comfortable with.
Those calls have already started coming in at Catundra Day Care Centre in Belleville.
Susan Hardacre, executive director at Catundra, said families that have children enrolled at the Loyalist College day centre have already begun inquiring.
“We have had phone calls coming in all morning,” Hardacre said.
Hardacre expects all the day care centres in the area to see a bump in inquiries.
The closure will also have an impact on students at the college.
“I feel more for the students,” Falcone said. “Some of them are single women who are just trying to get ahead in their career by coming to the college; so how convenient for them to have the daycare here.”
“Now they’re going to be struggling to get daycare in other places,” Falcone said. “So I feel for them more than me.”
The closure also means, job cuts to certain positions within the day centre.
“It’s very difficult to say what the impact will be on individuals,” Piercy said. “But there will be a number of jobs that will not be there.”
Piercy said the college will work closely with the staff members affected, as well with families searching for alternate care.