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SFU Childcare started in 1968 with a group of dedicated parents who began a co-operative family orientated drop-in center. The university awarded the co-operative a $550 grant for equipment and recognized the formal status by changing the name of a card-playing area of a former cafeteria lounge to Family Co-op. Enrollment was limited to 30 children. Parents traded their volunteer time in exchange for care services.

In 1972 a group of students from the Faculty of Education built a wilderness landscape playground. Through the years the children has had the joy of playing on many new playgrounds, built with the help of many parents.

Childcare had become accepted as an integral part of campus life. In 1973 the provincial government gave the campus child care two portable classroom units, which were situated at the west end of the residence parking lot.

Snake Hill was the first child care center at SFU and was located in the AQ. Others soon followed; each center was individual and autonomous and carried on the family co-op model. In 1973, the Family Co-op became an incorporated society called the Burnaby Mountain Daycare Society (BMDCS). This meant there were four individual child care centers, all with different models, under one society.

In 1974, a child care study for the university was done by Emily Campbell, who later became the first child care coordinator at SFU. The study provided much information about childcare at SFU, and influenced the Board of Governors’ decision to build the new child care complex. The university made the decision to use $1.2 million for building a new child care complex – the first of its kind in Canada. As past director, Joyce Branscombe puts it, “There is nothing else like it in the province.” SFU was also the first university in Canada to hire a full-time coordinator to improve the standards of child care. Burnaby Mountain Daycare Society (BMDCS) changed its name to the Burnaby Association of University Child Care Societies (BAUCCS). In January 1977, the “children’s complex” was finally complete, with the official opening taking place on April 1, 1977. There were 120 children enrolled with a capacity of 160 children in five separate societies.

The first hot lunch program began during the late seventies. It was a parent-run program; each day a different parent was responsible for bringing lunch. Today, our childcare has our own kitchen and chef to prepare hot lunch for children. Once again SFU is unique, being one of the few child care programs in the province to offer a hot lunch program.

In 1981, a task force was struck by George Stuart, then SFU’s Vice President, Administration, to answer the question:”How can current levels of care and service be maintained without any financial support from the university?” The task force recommendations were published and the decision to phase out university paid utilities came into effect, so that by 1985 the university had stopped subsiding the utilities. This was a huge financial obstacle for the society to overcome.

In 1982, another transformation was BAUCCS amalgamated, to became the SFU Childcare Society (SFUCCS), which continues today. Amalgamation was a significant event in the history of the society. The feeling of becoming one large organization instead of individual independent units was a difficult adjustment. This change made for much turmoil; the once independent centers now had to learn to work together and think of the society as a whole, rather than their individual centers. Past board chair, Sharon Gregson reflects, ” Each year the whole organization became more professional and more cohesive.”

In June of 1984, a drop-in emergency service named Les Petits was opened in Building One. The center soon changed to meet the needs of families by offering part-time care rather than drop-in care. Also in 1984, immense change occurred for SFU Childcare when Emily Campbell resigned. Joyce Branscombe was hired as the second Director for the society and remained with the society until 1987. Under Joyce’s leadership the staff became increasingly more professional and began to operate more as a whole group.

Between 1987-1991, Penny Coates was Director of the Childcare Society. Preliminary planning for Building 4 and our first casino fundraiser took place during this period. During Penny’s time with the society much work was accomplished creating policies and procedures, in particular emergency evacuation. Today, the society is proud of our ability to evacuate the entire complex in under four minutes.

In 1991, Sheila Davidson was hired as Director. From a beginning in 1991, ideas for Building 4 flourished, and in September of 1995, they became a reality. With the NDP government in power in Victoria, the SFU Childcare Society received $1 million and $300,000 from SFU towards the new building. Besides the new addition to the complex, many other things have happened since 1991, including centralized computer enrollment systems, new parent and staff handbooks, bulk order purchasing and development of a cohesive board orientation package. Snake Hill was closed. Nanitsh and Morningside and administration functions moved into the New fourth building. Skyfire opened in response to demand for more part-time care. Voyageurs, the 8-12 year old group housed for many years on Shell House basement, was the last center to move into the child care complex. Whenever the Childcare Society becomes more efficient or centralized it gives the childcare staff more time with the children thereby providing higher quality care.

In 2001, the child care society started discussions about the new UniverCity development on the east side of campus. Sheila Davidson resigned after thirteen years of service. Pat Frouws was hired as the new Director, and remained in this role until her retirement in June 2019.  In 2005, the old Snake Hill program renovated into Bright Clouds Toddler program. In 2010, the new elementary school, University Highlands opened in September. Transportation supplied by the Burnaby School District to Sperling ends. SFUCCS takes over transporting childcare to school – University Highlands and Sperling. In 2012, UniverCity Childcare opened in April. UniverCity Childcare is one of Canada’s greenest buildings and the world’s most sustainable childcare facility,  it has opened its doors to children and a window to SFU researchers. On May 11th, SFU Child Care Society received the Provincial Legacy Award for the Kahpoo Infant Program at a special luncheon sponsored by the BC government. In that year,  Pat Frouws, received the Prime Minister’s Certificate of Excellence in Early Childhood Education, the highest national award in Canada for educators.

Rachel Day was appointed as Executive Director in August 2019. In a new partnership with Burnaby School District #41 and with support from Simon Fraser University, three school age programs from the West main campus moved to the new facility at University Highlands Elementary School in November 2019. This new facility accommodates 77 school age children. In the early spring of 2020, New IT and New 3-5 programs opened on the West main campus and created an additional 37 childcare spaces. SFUCCS are continuously expanding and committed to provide quality care and learning to the larger community. Our first off-campus location is expected to open in 2022.