Saturday, October 16, 2010

Child Care

It's a widely known fact in my social circle that I want kids.  I wanna get knocked up.  Two to three times. 
It's also a widely known fact in my social circle that I am crazy passionate about quality Early Childhood Education.  I work in the field. 
However, as some of you may know, quality Early Childhood Education and child care is VERY HARD TO FIND.  Often, child care centers are quite expensive (In Seattle generally $1300 and up for infant care) and low in quality.  Teachers rarely have much training or education.  The turnover rate is high.  Centers meet licensing requirements, but do not exceed them in any way. 
There is some quality child care available for low income people who can qualify for assistance through the state.  It used to be that you could get assistance if you were 200% of the Federal Poverty Level or under.  Now there are cuts being made to balance the state budget, so only families who make under 175% of the Federal Poverty Level will qualify.  That's about $2124 dollars per month for a family of two.  If you make over that, you will probably need to pay child care at the going rate (instead of the copay that they charge with state assistance that ranges from $15 to ~$300ish.)
As a single parent, I could not afford to work.  But I could not afford to stay home.  So it's likely I would have to find care for my child that was less expensive and less quality than I would like. 
As an advocate for quality early childhood education and child care in Washington State, I really would like to propose some sort of sliding scale child care system.  Honestly, on my income, I think I could pay about $800 a month.  Ideally, I would pay $500 a month for care.  Would that ever happen?  Not now. 
In order to be progressive when it comes to early care and education, we must come up with a solution for everyone.  Right now, the very low income and the very high income can afford childcare.  Those of us in-between are kind of stuck.  Well, actually, everyone is kind of stuck--quality child care centers are few and far between, and who wants to pay for low quality for their kids? 
Just some thoughts that have been running through my head lately with these intense cuts.  It will affect my line of work (non-profit childcare) very much.  It will affect the families that I work with.  It will make me cry.  If nothing else, give this some thought.


JACKY said...

erf. i work at a center that provides decent care and make pretty decent money for childcare, but still cant afford to send my [hypothetical] kid to my own center! we do have a staff discount, but still... I think I'd come out a couple hundred bucks ahead. i don't mean to be ungrateful for the job, nor do i dislike my job in any way, but i think i should be able to have my kid where I work. If I'm providing decent care for other people's kids then I'd like to not worry about the care my own kid is getting!

I think we should go rally for more pay for childcare/preschool teachers!

Heather said...

Ah, a slippery slope.

There's a balance, in order for childcare to be lucrative to people who are educated and dedicated they have to be able to get paid a comfortable amount of money...however parents can't afford/don't want to pay the amount of money it may cost for childcare workers to live comfortably. Maybe centers take too much of a percent and could give the teachers more...but in that case I would say home run daycare centers are also an option (and what I grew up going to).

I guess I don't see any logic in the idea that we should get better childcare, but that we should pay less money for it. Someone has to pay the teachers...