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Concordia Student Parents Centre expands its essential services

The Centre is turning 5 and starting the year off with new computers and fresh decor
September 15, 2014
By Marilla Steuter-Martin

CUSP provides a safe and comfortable space for student parents to participate in family-oriented programs.
CUSP provides a safe space for student parents to participate in family-oriented programs. | Photo: Concordia University

The Concordia University Student Parents Centre (CUSP) is celebrating its five-year anniversary and, thanks to recent renovations, is only continuing to grow. 

The Centre, which is part of Student Services and managed by Advocacy and Support Services, plays a vital role at the university. Coordinator Deborah Simon explains that its goal is to help students succeed academically by providing services and workshops to ease the many stresses of parenthood.

Simon, who started as an intern in 2009, says that being both a parent and a student can be a challenging balancing act.

“It’s 24/7 to be a student, and being a parent is the same thing. There’s that extra responsibility to consider,” she says.

Part of CUSP’s mission is to facilitate a place where student parents can meet and share their experiences. According to Simon, isolation is a factor for student parents and CUSP helps in that regard.

“It’s really a place to connect with other student parents,” she says. “It helps to talk to those who understand what it means to balance home and studies.”

Through CUSP’s regular events, parents not only get the chance to spend time socializing and relaxing with one another but they also get to focus on their academics. The Centre hosts a variety of different events, from monthly cookouts to holiday parties.

Simon says that while the Centre doesn’t offer any kind of childcare services, the computer lab acts as a quiet place for students to work and study while their children make use of the adjoining playroom.

 As part of the expansion, five new computers have been added for this very purpose, and a designated breastfeeding room — the only one on campus — has been created in the newly renovated CUSP offices.

“We were able to give the Centre a fresh new look, making it more appealing to families, which is great,” says Brigitte St-Laurent, director of Advocacy and Support Services.

CUSP has approximately 450 members, and Simon says the numbers are increasing.

“Around 10 per cent of the student population are parents,” she says.

The Centre holds three big events each year: an orientation at the end of September, a holiday party and an end-of-year graduation celebration. Simon has seen a consistent increase in registration for these activities.

On top of this, the Centre holds workshops on time management, budgeting and work-life balance. It also provides information on affordable childcare, housing and academic information.

CUSP is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday, and will hold an orientation on Friday, September 26, from 5 to 7 p.m. at its offices on 1410 Guy Street, Room 24.

Student parents are welcome to drop by with their children.

Learn more about the Concordia University Student Parents Centre.

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