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Dedicated staff of PlayCare Marian Siemens, Lori Reuther and Marylynn Childs.

L-R Marian Siemens, Lori Reuther and Marlynn Childs

A place of many memories – PlayCare closes Sept. 14

September 12, 2018 — 

For over 35 years, the PlayCare Centre (PlayCare), University of Manitoba’s first daycare, provided childcare for countless students. Located in University College, PlayCare started from humble beginnings in June 1983 and grew to meet the needs of the campus community. On Friday, Sept. 14, 2018, PlayCare will close its doors for the last time.

The little daycare that could

PlayCare initially opened with limited equipment, supplies and furniture that were donated, borrowed or purchased with little funding. Funding was precarious, so a shoe string budget and volunteerism kept PlayCare open for those who needed it. Finally, in April 1998, PlayCare became fully subsidized by government funding, ensuring relative financial security for the future.

“PlayCare was started to address the needs of University of Manitoba student parents and has continued with that focus,” said Marlynn Childs, Coordinator, PlayCare Centre. “As a department of Student Affairs it has always been our mandate to prioritize care and early childhood education for the children of students.”

“What I appreciate most about PlayCare is the commitment and dedication of the staff to provide a safe and enriching environment for the youngest members of our campus community,” said Brandy Usick, Executive Director, Student Engagement and Academic Success. “Since its inception, PlayCare has always prioritized the needs of U of M students who have children. Services evolved to meet the needs of students. I am proud of PlayCare’s long time support of student parents and the way in which providing childcare was a factor in their success.”

Decades of dedication to PlayCare

From the countless volunteers and staff members of PlayCare over the years, three important individuals stand out for their dedication to PlayCare. Marylynn Childs, Coordinator of PlayCare for 33 years; Lori Reuther, Senior Early Childhood Educator, with PlayCare for 31 years; and Marian Siemens, Senior Early Childhood Educator, with PlayCare for 12 years. With their years of commitment to childcare, they helped shape PlayCare into the institution it is today.

“My best memories of my time at PlayCare have been watching the children develop and grow,” said Childs. “Recently at an anniversary party a former PlayCare child, who had just turned 16, came to visit and shared her happy reminiscences of attending PlayCare. We take pride in our role of supporting student parents. Mentoring student staff has also brought us a great deal of satisfaction.”

Campus Children’s Centre opening its doors

Children currently enrolled in PlayCare will be transitioned over to the larger Campus Children’s Centre with some familiar faces from PlayCare.

“All of the children currently enrolled at PlayCare have been offered a space at Campus Children’s Centre and many of the staff will be moving there with them,” said Childs. “Throughout the summer we have been invited to make several visits to campus to play in the playground and participate in events such as the petting zoo. Campus Children’s Centre is committed to supporting U of M students, dedicating half of their child care spaces for that purpose.”

The Campus Children’s Centre is in the process of expanding, with an event to mark the re-opening to be held in October. After an in-depth analysis of child care models at other Canadian universities, and exploring child care options, the University of Manitoba determined that working in partnership with the existing Campus Children’s Centre would provide the opportunity to increase child care spots and help strengthen an already positive relationship between the not for profit licensed centre and the campus community.

Saying goodbye to PlayCare

To mark the closure of PlayCare and to thank the staff for their long service, an event will be held on Sept. 19, from 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. in room 200 of University College (Senior Common Room). All are welcome to attend.

Do you have a PlayCare memory you would like to share? Submissions will be posted in a UM Today photo gallery. Submit your photos or stories to alumni_answers [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.

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