U of T’s Family Resource Centre (FRC), located at 7 Glen Morris Street, will be closing December 1. The FRC, a child and parent drop-in centre for children under five, has been run by the Early Learning Centre at U of T.
In an email sent out to parents who use the FRC, the Early Learning Centre explained that “the FRC will be permanently closing as of December 1, 2016 due to financial constraints.”
Nellie Chang, a parent who uses the FRC’s services, emailed the Early Learning Centre to express her dissatisfaction with the closure. Chang wrote that she was “very sad to hear that the Early Learning Centre and the University of Toronto will close this amazing place in December.” She continued, “I do not believe an alternative centre with the same level of care and comfort [exists] in this part of the city. For the sake of the families that rely on the FRC now and for the new ones to come, I strongly urge you to reconsider the closure of the centre.”
Althea Blackburn-Evans, Director of Media Relations at U of T, explained that the decision to close the FRC was not taken lightly. “We know how important the Family Resource Centre has been to families, especially the opportunity it offered to connect with other families,” she said.
“The decision to permanently close the resource centre was a difficult one,” Blackburn-Evans continued. “The Early Learning Centre, like many childcare centres, is facing challenges times with the introduction of full-day kindergarten among other factors. We want to keep fees affordable and ensure we can continue to offer students lower fees.”
Blackburn-Evans also clarified that there are other similar services close to the campus.
“Among other considerations was the fact that there are many similar drop-in programs offered by schools and community centres near the St. George campus that will provide families with alternative options,” she said.
Jeannette Doherty, a parent who used the centre when she first came to Canada, told The Varsity, “I don’t think the university realizes how important this service is to the many families coming with new UofT students or employees, and can’t communicate strongly enough how big a loss it would be. There simply isn’t another service of this nature in Toronto to families like ours.”
Parents who spoke with The Varsity also talked at length about the contributions of Teresa Biderman, the Family Resource Centre’s coordinator and only staff member.
Sarah Donnelly, a mother of two, told The Varsity, “My son and I will very much miss not only the place to play, and the community, but also Teresa Biderman when the centre is closed. She is the vibrant spirit at the centre of everything and goes above and beyond her job description to make everything run smoothly and make everyone feel a welcomed member of the group.”
The closing of the FRC will not affect the daycare services provided by the Early Learning Centre.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article states that Blackburn-Evans explained that services similar to the FLC exist at U of T. In fact, Blackburn-Evans was referring to services nearby offered by other groups. The Varsity regrets the error.