April 17, 2013

America's Day Care Hellscape Is A Political Choice

From The New Republic:

First, Mire tried KinderCare again, but they wouldn't take Kendyll until Mire paid her debt; when she did, there were no openings. She called about a dozen centers, all of which were either too expensive or had no available slots. Mire thought she might have to turn down the job. "I just kind of broke down, because it seemed like nothing was going right, everything was just falling apart," she says. "I sat in my car for about thirty minutes. I was just like, I don't even know what to do anymore. Because I want to start this job, but I literally don't have nowhere for Kendyll to go."
SPOILER ALERT: she went to a home-based daycare where she died in a fire.

We can wring our hands and shudder all we want over the dangerous, dystopian, slapdash, inefficient, and economy-throttling system of unprofessional, unregulated, uncertified, untrained day care in this country.

But what we can't do is pretend it's not a direct consequence of the choices and priorities of our political system.

The Hell of American Day Care [newrepublic]

2 Comments

Thanks for the link. It astonishes me--ASTONISHES ME--that the crisis in child care in this country isn't a bigger issue. The waiting lists, the crippling expense, the near total lack of regulation; it's mind-boggling.

For a time, we used a daycare in the metro DC region that was an accredited center (so, not a home care). It had reasonably good inspection results from the state, and the caregivers (while likely undocumented) seemed to be attentive and fairly well supervised. It was not our first, second, or third choice, but it was the only one we could get into, even having put our names on waiting lists 3 months after conception.

One day, we got a call that the place had been shut down by the city. It had 30 (!) kids more than it was supposed to--90, instead of 60. To this day, I am not sure whether the worst part of that experience was knowing our daughter was in an overcrowded center for nearly a year, or the mad scramble that occurred when she was suddenly without a daycare center and we had to find an alternative on 12 hours notice.

We ultimately managed to get into a professionally run, national chain center, which is much, much better. It also costs roughly as much as a good state university. At least when it comes time to pay for college we'll be used to it.

It's sad when anything bad happens to a child. But I would hardly blame it on untrained, unregulated daycares. I am a parent of 3 kids. But I wasn't trained or regulated to be a good parent. I would say my mother overtrained me to be cautious and safe at all times. This has made me one helluva good caregiver. Unfortunately, there are many who go into childcare without really caring about children. That is where the mistake is made. Don't pee on everyone just because a few messed things up.

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