Daycare: A crapshoot at bestAug 14, 2000 Write an essay on this topic.
I am not a parent yet although I hope to be someday. I am however a long-time daycare provider with experience in six different daycares. My time in these places has been as long as 3 years and as short as 3 days. They were in different communities and served different populations, but they had one thing in common. They were not good places to leave your children. At most of them the children were at least safe, but if parents were hoping their child was being enriched by the daycare experience, trust me they were mistaken.
It will not surprise anyone when I tell you that daycare is a severely underfunded enterprise in this nation of ours. This leads to a variety of problems in daycare. The first of which is understaffing. There are rules about how many children are permitted to be with each staff member, and while these ratios are too high to begin with, the greater horror is that they are often ignored. Daycare owners pinch pennies at every turn so they push ratios to the limits and often exceed them. Even the ethical ones are forced to do this on occasion because daycare staffs are notorious for missing work, but more on this later.
Perhaps worse than the understaffing problem is the education of said staff. I have been paid from $5.25 an hour up to $7.50 an hour for daycare work. At these wages you are not getting Rhodes Scholars. What you do get are generally people who sincerely care for children, but have no real idea how to educate them. They are mandated to do continuing education, which they cannot afford and is generally meaningless correspondence stuff anyway. SO if you hope that your child is being educated at daycare and that you can simply watch TV with them at home, well you are simply mistaken.
Low pay and expectations for out of pocket expenses lead to another huge problem with daycare staff: turnover. In my longest stint of three years at one center, I was the second most senior staff within 6 months and by the end (the center closed by the way) I was the most senior staff by over two years. Children who go to daycare are looking at new faces literally every day. Perhaps they gain some courage and ability to deal with change this way, but it certainly doesn't provide the stability many parents imagine when they pick a child-care facility.
So what is the bottom line. Most of us will need childcare at some point in our lives as the single breadwinner family can't survive often anymore. The bad news has already been explained. Wherever you choose there will be a transient, overworked, underpaid, and undereducated staff taking care of your child. The good news is in 5years of doing this I have met only one or two people working in daycare that didn't care about children and they didn't last. Your child will be safe from physical harm and will be fed, although one place didn't feed enough. Your child will not be abused but he/she will not be educated either. it is simply babysitting and that's ok. You still have to do your job, go home at night and read and talk. Daycare can't, and probably shouldn't, raise your child.
My advice to you is this. Find a daycare where the staff has stayed for years if you can. This is the best indicator of quality. Next, be pushy, you will get talked about behind your back but you will get you r child more attention. Lastly, lower your expectations. Daycare is not a cure-all and never will be. You chose to work and have kids so now you are responsible for their young minds. you don't get to be tired and vegetate in front of the television anymore. For 3 bucks an hour some exhausted and overwhelmed people kept your child safe today, you do the rest its your job.
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