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Melanie Maye, whose son attends the Mount Saint Vincent University child study centre, says it has really helped her son. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

More child-care spaces coming to Mount Saint Vincent University

By Jacob Moore May 10, 2024 | 5:12 PM

A new expansion of the child-care centre at Mount Saint Vincent University would let the school take on infants and give education students more learning opportunities.

University president Joël Dickinson says it’s better for students in the education program to learn how to work with all sorts of ages.

“The diversification of age groups will allow for better training purposes and teaching purposes as well,” she says.

The government announced the expansion at the university’s child study centre on Friday morning.

The current centre is a full-day program that can have 40 children between 18 months and five years old, according to a news release from the provincial government.

The expansion would create an additional 82 spaces, including 32 for infants. Priority for those spaces will go to parents who are already on their waitlist.

The Mount Saint Vincent University child study centre (left) is getting an expansion (right) that will add 82 child-care spaces in addition to the current 40. (Left: Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting) (Right: The Government of Nova Scotia)

Design work is underway, and when that phase is finished, construction will take about two years, according to the news release.

The expansion will cost a total of $10 million.

This includes:

  • $5 million from the university
  • $3 million from the federal government
  • $2 million from the province

The university will hire more staff, some specifically for infant care. Dickinson says there are different rules for infant care and they require more staff per group than toddlers.

Research school

Students at the school often work with child-care staff to learn about those roles, and the expansion would bring on more staff to work with the university students and children, says Dickinson.

Dickinson says it’s not a typical child-care centre. It’s also a lab school, which means researchers inform the centre on best practices for things like nutrition and learning. Toys, for example, are categorized by age and the expected learning outcomes from those toys.

“There is really a purpose to everything that happens throughout the day” says Dickinson.

President of Mount Saint Vincent University Joël Dickinson says the expansion of the child study centre will not only benefit young children but university students who use the centre will have more learning opportunities as well. (Jacob Moore/Acadia Broadcasting)

Melanie Waye’s son goes to the school. He’s benefited a lot from the centre, because staff are supportive of his specific needs, and because they let him learn and develop based on his interests, she says.

A student at the university did a research project involving her son and it was so touching that it made her cry a little bit, she says.

“It is so special having people that truly care and believe in our children, the environment and educators are supportive to all learners,” says Waye.

Flexible hours

The university is also looking into having flexible hours at the expanded centre to accommodate parents who can’t drop off and pick up their children within conventional business hours, but the plans are not finalized, according to Dickinson.

To improve child-care in Nova Scotia, centres must have flexible hours, says Becky Druhan, Minister of Education.

“It’s an important part of having accessible care, having care that is available when families need it,” says Druhan.