I just finished the section for the book on Child Care Issues. We've watched the funny hollywood versions - Daddy Day Care, Mrs. Doubtfire, and even in the recent Pursuit of Happyness. But the truth is trying to find quality child care for young children at affordable prices is just about impossible. It is truly the Luck of the Draw. I did find some excellent resources that are also enlightening about the sorry state of quality child care in our country.
If you are looking for quality child care check out the collaborative website: www.childcareaware.org which identifies several national resources for referral as well as a comprehensive guide: "38 Questions for Parents Choosing child Care" from the National Association of Child Care Resources & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA).
The issues of finding quality child care and paying for it are challenged by all that we have learned in the last decade regarding brain development in young humans. When those first three to five years of life are not attended to properly with secure, healthy, active, loving environments - well, we all suffer. The new human brain, even before it is born, is better than any computer that same brain might ultimately build in a few years. High speed rapid connections web swiftly across a soft gray matter calculating, building, archiving, developing the most subtle, but critical knowledge blocks, using all the newly formed senses for miraculous input and output.
We already know that, as a society, we must get this information to parents to help them help these babies to grow healthy and secure. But we also know that the muddle of so much in our society cripples the potential of these wonderful beginnings. When parents can't do the task, it is often the relatives that step in - the grandparents, aunts uncles, cousins, older siblings, even good friends and godparents trying to bridge the gaps in the critical moments of development.
One of the handicaps for parents and relative caregivers who are also part of the social fabric working away from home is to find a great place where the bounty of these little humans will be cultivated. Unfortunately the cost of good child care in many states is so prohibitive and the quality part is less available to families on a limited income, that finding the match won't happen. In 49 states child care fees for an infant is higher than the average family spends on food, or for two children child care is higher than median rent cost.
There are humble options to families in our country, but not much. The Department of Health and Human Services in most states offer financial child care assistance to eligible families. The IRS offers some child care deductions on taxes for specific situations. And some quality community centers offer child care scholarships. A few corporations have recognized the significant productive benefits of on-site child care and other family friendly programs that support valued employees by supporting their family needs.
When the federal government looks to cut "domestic" programs to fund other costly projects, this is one area that gets the evil eye. Weary advocates bravely lobby just to continue the little federal support to quality child care and parent education programs. Maybe someday we will get our priorities in order and recognize the value of strengthening the health and development of our society right from the very beginning.
Oh dear, where did that soap box come from? Take care, friends. I appreciate your comments to me directly.