Students with children express frustration over lack of support

A photo of the exterior of K Building at Fanshawe's Oxford campus CREDIT: GRACIA ESPINOSA
Up until 2004, Fanshawe College did have a daycare centre which closed due to lack of government funding.

Wendy Pereira is a Fanshawe College business insurance student with a seven-year-old son. She believes the college could be doing more to support students with children, especially international students.

“They know that most of the students who come here are between 18 and 22 years old, but a percentage of those, including me, are mature students who are 30 years old. If you also look at nationalities, especially from American countries, they come to Canada with children,” Pereira said.

The latest Fanshawe Facts report reveals that most students in the 2022 and 2023 academic years, including domestic and international students, were between 20 and 24. Following them, students aged 25 to 29 were the next largest group. In terms of nationalities, Indians make up the largest group, while Brazil and Colombia come in at the sixth and ninth positions, respectively. However, it’s important to note that the college does not collect data related to the number of students who have children.

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Peace Ezenwa is a respiratory therapy student from Nigeria, and said her biggest struggle was finding affordable childcare.

“I don’t kind of just leave the kids with anybody. And so, I find it difficult to find help. And the help I found charged me $20 per hour. And that is too much,” Ezenwa said.

She found other students in the same situation in her program, like Jeff Van Den Ende and Brandi Griffin. Van Den Ende and Griffin both said they might consider bringing their children to class with them as a last resort, however, they acknowledged that this can be a disruption for other classmates.

“I can’t imagine concentrating in class with a toddler who I must watch and entertain so that the child doesn’t bother other classmates,” Van Den Ende said. “If there were a place at Fanshawe where I could sign my kids up for the day where they could do activities, that would be a massive help because then my wife wouldn’t have to use up her limited number of vacation days.”

Up until 2004, Fanshawe College did have a daycare centre for children in K Building, which closed due to lack of government funding.

“Many colleges that had early childhood education had their lab schools,” explained early childhood education program coordinator, Janet Foster. “And most of them are gone because of money.”

Griffin thinks it’s a wasted opportunity for Fanshawe not to offer childcare services because, “They have childhood development programs and other programs that rely on students having firsthand previous experience with kids. So, it’s like two birds, one stone if you can provide extra resources for students that benefit them in those programs.”