We learned recently that Niagara College intends to close its child care centre and lab school, which has served students, faculty and the surrounding community for 43 years at the end of the next school year.
This follows a trend we have seen in recent years where colleges close centres because they ‘aren’t making money’ or are running a deficit. It is important for us to highlight the important role these lab schools play in ECE education programs.
The presence of a high quality licensed child care centre on campus is a significant advantage in recruitment of students, staff and faculty.
In fact, many colleges are expanding their ECE programs, revamping curriculum and applying to the Ministry for new offerings, including degree programs. With good knowledge about what various colleges are doing, we could be intervening with the Ministry, advisory committees and organizing on campus to advocate for the opening of a lab school / child care centre.
One of the strengths of the ECE program in Ontario is that every ECE student does four placements providing direct experience working with children in real life settings.
The best ECE programs ensure that students do one placement in a lab school where the students experience a high quality environment and where faculty and staff have the opportunity to individually supervise students before they graduate. Lab school placements allow the most current and relevant research to be integrated into high quality programming for young children. In addition, lab schools promote the necessity for community connections as part of professional practice – for students, faculty and parents.
To read the Coalition's letter to the president of Niagara College, please click here.
To read the response from President Dan Patterson, click here.
Why is the centre closing?
The statement issued by the college sites financial impacts from full day kindergarten, as well as the impact of historic underfunding which has resulted in a wait list for subsidy in the region:
With the implementation of Provincial Full-Day Kindergarten, the transition of four- and five-year olds from child care to the school system is putting further financial pressure on all licensed child care providers, including Niagara College. In addition, the ongoing economic challenges within the Niagara region have created a high demand for child care subsidies which exceeds the amount of available funding from the Niagara Region. In January 2012, a waitlist for child care subsidies was implemented by Niagara Region Children’s Services.
However, the statement also says that "continued operations of the Centre beyond April 30, 2013 would mean diverting critical resources away from academic programming". It is important to continue to raise awareness about the integral role on site placement and lab school opportunities play in the education of early childhood educators.
St. Catharines Standard: Mom concerned about closure of college day-care centre
Possible closure of Niagara College daycare centre worries Welland MPP - Cindy Forster expresses her concern over the closure of Niagara College's child care centre.
Read the Niagara College statement
For a detailed Q&A about how the college reached this decision, which references underfunding and impacts of full day kindergarten, click here.