Work has begun on an extension to UCD’s Oakmount Crèche, due to be finished by December this year. Centre Manager, Jennifer Kinsella, told The University Observer that the new building will allow Oakmount to offer an additional 51 spaces, enabling the centre – which currently caters for 61 children – to increase its capacity to over 100.
The crèche will also begin a new after-school service, which will run from 1pm to 6.15pm, catering for children from ages four to nine.
According to Kinsella, one million euro in funding for the new extension will come from the National Development Plan, with the project being “helped along by the University also.”
Kinsella commented that the centre currently has waiting lists for the crèche facilities that extend to a year or more. Kinsella stated that the main aim of the extension is to alleviate the demand the facility has faced in recent times. She said “it’s very frustrating if families are ringing up at least a year in advance, the moment they become pregnant, to put their name down, and we don’t have the space to give them.” Kinsella also admitted that, prior to the annoucement of the plans for extension, the crèche “just found it really difficult to be able to cater for the need on campus.”
While Kinsella felt that the crèche has been in need of the extension for a long time, she says that its expansion means that “we’ll be able to provide a better service to the campus.”
The new extension will encompass a development known as ‘The Magic Room’, containing sensorial walls, stages and lights. A new garden for young babies will also be created which, it is hoped, will offer a safer and more varied place for them to play.
Oakmount is located near the Clonskeagh entrance to the Belfield campus and caters for children of both staff and students. Kinsella highlighted that students “have the capacity to apply for a student subsidy”, which is means-tested and allows students to receive discounts of up to half the total fee.