Monday, December 22, 2008

Parents Foregoing Day Care in a Bad Economy

Yet more evidence that the US needs more government involvement in day care. The Washington Post yesterday reported that more parents are pulling their children out of day care because they can't afford it. Squeezed on All Sides, Parents Forego Day Care: Education, Safety Sacrificed in Fiscal Crunch Instead, they are leaving their children in potentially unsafe situations such as staying home alone or in unregulated day care. The negligence of this country with regard to children with working parents is astounding. It's sink or swim, everyone's left to their own, when the price of day care is astronomical. According to the article, even parents who get subsidies for day care are increasingly unable to afford it. (The article was somewhat vague on the source of these subsidies, which I wasn't even aware existed. Not sure if they're from city, county, state or federal government.) The health, safety and education of children should be a national priority, not something left to chance or the vagaries of the marketplace. Other industrialized countries find a way for society as a whole to bear the cost of children and not leave it to individual families. On the one hand, yes, children can be seen as an expensive and unnecessary accessory, but at the same time, they are the future. Improving their lives is an investment in the future, not to mention guaranteeing basic safety while parents are working. I hope the Obama administration plans to put some energy into solving our country's drastic work/life problems.


K said...

That is scary.

It's been pretty surreal to watch the effects of the meltdown.

I'm afraid we haven't seen the last of it.

Julia said...

There are state subsidies, and I believe there are subsidies in the welfare-to-work scheme.

What's also extremely disturbing about daycare in general, even before the current economic meltdown, is this: Who are most of the daycare providers/workers? Women. How much money do you think the average worker makes? Not much. I don't know where all the money that parents pay goes, but unless they have a nanny, it's not going to the actual provider.

Why is it okay to put children in the care of people who make minimum wage? What does that say about how we value children? And women?

Ideally, caring for children would be a decently-paid job with some prestige, rather than the current last-resort of under-educated, young mothers (who are often the daycare workers because their children get to come to work with them!).

I consider myself extemely fortunate to have been able to stay home with my kid, for many reasons. On the other hand, I wouldn't have had one if I couldn't have taken a few years out of the workforce. Of course it's affected my earnings, my professional development, my future (doubtful) retirement income.

We pay a price regardless. Here I am preaching to the choir again...

crabbyanne said...

Yes, part of the problem with the day care situation is the low prestige of working there and the low pay. It's all part of not valuing child care, as if it's not important and it's just warehousing. I think our whole work force is still based on the idea that there's a wife at home taking care of things, especially in the professions. Even though that's ridiculous and was never the case to begin with.