Graduate students and their children gathered in the Waterloo region council chambers offices to send a message to their councillors: there is not enough subsidized child care for graduate students, and it is preventing many from returning to school. As they see it, the issues are the long waiting list (250 families) for subsidized daycare as well as its priority system which places graduate students at the bottom of the list for subsidization. The region has a priority system for their subsidies - those on welfare, single working parents, and families who have children with special-needs are at the top of this priority list, and "graduate students are at the bottom". Shannon Freeman, a PhD student and mother of two children, claims that this is because there is an assumption that graduate students can afford child care. Masters level students make approximately $22,000 annually, and PhD students earn about $32,000. With child care fees of $600 - $1200 per month per child, this is not feasible for many. Freeman states that approximately 1 in 5 graduate students have children.
In response to the requests of students, as well as to a petition of 593 names asking council to either spend more money on daycare subsidies or put graduate students higher up on the list, councillors committed to review the priority list and report back.
Regional director of Children's Services Nancy Dickieson, stated “We are quite willing to take another look at it (the waiting list)...if only we could get more money from the province, it would solve that problem.”
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