Child Care

Finding Community at UTM’s Early Learning Centre

Have you and your family been looking for childcare spaces in the city of Mississauga? You may not know, but the University of Toronto Mississauga has its own Early Learning Centre!

This community-oriented daycare is located right on-campus, making it an easy choice for students, staff, and faculty working at the University. Clients of the ELC praise it for its ease of access, familial environment, staff, and more. We chatted with two doctoral-level students and the Centre’s Supervisor to learn about why its pedagogy, spirit, and level of care is so unique.

An Overview of UTM’s Early Learning Centre

My family has had such a great experience with the University of Toronto Mississauga’s ELC that my son who graduated the program constantly asks to visit.” – Diane, PhD student and mother of two living on-campus

We’ve found that the Centre’s programming is a refined pedagogy.” – Marguerite, doctoral student and mother of two living off-campus

UTM ELC Grad Mother and Daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ELC favours a unique play-based emergent curriculum in its daycare classrooms. Cognizant of the ways in which learning happens, the Centre has four pedagogical foci: wellbeing, expression, belonging, and engagement. These principles form the Early Learning Centre’s philosophy and are incorporated into all aspects of its everyday practice.

Teresa Silva, the Centre’s Supervisor, gave some examples: “the ELC aspires to foster an environment in which all parents feel that they belong, in which all children are able to express themselves, where all children have access to nutritious meals and feel emotionally supported, and in which both parents and children feel engaged and can give feedback to the Centre’s practices and see its application.”

 The ELC is nested in the heart of the campus and so is closely engaged in campus-specific activities. Teresa informed us that numerous student groups and centres initiate kid-friendly activities for the Centre’s classes.

Centres and student groups on campus always want to engage with the ELC’s children. Last year the student group hosted an art session for the kids. They painted and then their canvases were displayed on-campus. They also do storytime, where they read books to the little ones.” – Teresa, Supervisor at the Early Learning Centre

As well, that the individuals from these campus organizations have standing invitations to the Early Learning Centre’s community activities. To remain involved in other ways on-campus, the ELC prioritizes giving University of Toronto students volunteer opportunities as well as paid supply positions in the space. Marguerite, a doctoral student at OISE and partner to a UTM staff member, shared that the ELC’s involvement on-campus has fostered for her a stronger sense of community and connection with UTM generally. Diane mentioned, “I actually got lab volunteers from speaking with folks at the daycare.”

Perks of the ELC

The people, parents and staff, are a big part of why we like the Centre so much.” – Marguerite

Diane and Marguerite each mentioned three particular things that they appreciate about UTM’s Early Learning Centre. For Diane, this included its convenient location, fantastic staff, and overall quality of care. Marguerite confirmed Diane’s sentiments, adding that she has yet to see any turnover in the Centre’s Early Childhood Educators, meaning that the individuals currently working with her daughter have been there since she began. She also enjoys the Centre’s layout, specifically how its location enables plenty of on-campus walks for the kids. Marguerite also shared that she feels that the ELC’s programming is incredibly refined and caters well to the needs of her daughter and her peers.

UTM’s ELC received a 100% rating from the Ministry of Education in 2016 and consistently remains high within the region’s daycare rankings. It hosts many family events that the wider community can attend including summer barbeques and potlucks. This sort of external programming offers clients the opportunity to network and connect with folks in similar life situations as themselves. Diane referenced how these events helped parents to become friends with one another and to share resources. Now she has a collection of people that she can call on if she needs last-minute childcare for date night or if her little ones are sick! Marguerite loves the Centre’s “warm dynamic” and appreciates that it considers how students have different needs with their families.

Subsidy and Payment Options at the ELC

It’s important to have childcare and childcare subsidies accessible to families on campus. Currently, many students don’t know how to access the Peel Region subsidy or that it exists at all.” – Teresa

 The Early Learning Centre at UTM offers student rates, which helps alleviate the financial burden of paid childcare. It’s also a licensed child care centre that accepts the Peel Region Child Care Fee Subsidy Program. This subsidy is open to those living in Brampton, Caledon, and Mississauga and is given based on families’ financial needs. Currently, there is no wait list for this subsidy meaning that all who qualify for it immediately receive it. For those who are TAs, Diane mentioned that your Union will help with daycare costs by giving you back money at the end of the year. More information on child care subsidies can be found on the Family Care Office website – Child Care Subsidy Section.

When you join the UTM Learning Centre you’ll find that you and your family have been folded into a lively, kid-friendly, on-campus community. Not only will your little ones be close by to your school or work, they’ll also have the chance to get to know the University that so enriches your life. The University of Toronto Mississauga’s Early Learning Centre is a great childcare option for your family. Drop by and visit it today!

Many thanks to our interviewees Diane, Marguerite, and Teresa.

Gabriele

Gabriele Simmons is three years into her Women and Gender Studies undergraduate degree. When not obsessing over comma placement Gabriele can be found doing recreational modern dance, reading fiction, and energetically volunteering. You might know her from UofT's Early Learning Centre, where she's been a casual classroom support since September 2015.

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