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Capilano University to double child care, launch new childhood studies centre

New centre to open in 2024

Capilano University is set for a major upgrade in on-campus child care and early childhood education studies.

The province and university announced Thursday (Jan. 13) that a new $18.6-million Centre for Childhood Studies, which will feature classrooms, labs and a child care facility with room for 74 kiddos, will open in 2024.

“It's got a very practical importance in terms of providing those spaces to children and families. But academically it really helps push forward the field of early childhood education,” said Brad Martin, dean for education, health and human development at the school.

The centre will be located on what is today the site of a facilities shed just north of the campus’s bus loop and Nat and Flora Bosa Centre for Film and Animation. It’s the first major new capital project on campus since the Bosa Centre opened a decade ago.

The design of the 23,000-square-foot building, which will be constructed to LEED gold environmental standards, is very much intended to integrate the upstairs pedagogy with the downstairs play and macaroni art.

“Having them in the same space as the actual child care facility is all part of the philosophy,” Martin said.

The new child care spaces will be prioritized for the kids of students and staff on campus, but they will also be open to the general public.

Doubling the capacity for child care on campus will be a tremendous source of relief for many parents, said Shaun McGrath, who recently graduated from CapU while his children were cared for at the existing campus child care facility.

“It was stressful. It was really hard to find a place, to be honest,” he said, reflecting on tough competition for limited child care spaces on the North Shore. “It was just priceless to have a child care centre literally a minute away from my class.”

More broadly, anyone whose child comes into the care of a CapU early childhood education grad will see the benefits, Martin added.

“The evidence has been out there for a long time about that critical importance of those years and setting children up for future learning, but also the benefits to family and community as well,” he said. “We don't want, as an institution or as a society, to have early childhood educators out there who are not well qualified, who are just given skills to be glorified babysitters. We want educators who lead their field and are trained rigorously as educators.”

The province is putting up a little more than half of the budget for the centre via the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training and Ministry of Children and Family Development.

In the release, Minister of State for Child Care Katrina Chen referred to childhood educators as the “workforce behind the workforce.”

North Vancouver-Seymour NDP MLA Susie Chant welcomed the addition to her riding.

“As a parent and former foster parent, I understand many people work together to build strong foundations to allow children to thrive later in life. The Centre for Childhood Studies at Capilano University and the expansion of Early Childhood Educator programs throughout the province will benefit families, while also providing meaningful careers for students with a passion for nurturing and guiding our future generations,” she said.

Capilano University is contributing $4.6 million, and a capital campaign to raise the remaining $5 million has already nearly reached its target, thanks to sizable contributions from the Dajvad Mowafaghian Foundation, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, and West Fraser. CapU’s own chancellor Yuri Fulmer and his wife Alesia seeded the campaign with $2 million of their own.