Friday, April 14, 2017

Student suggests that we need subsidized around-the-clock child care services

This student reaction paper points out that we have a need for child care facilities that are open 24-hours, and such child care services ought to be made affordable for the low-income workers who have greatest need of them.

Reflection Paper

            In this reflection paper I will consider the provision of child care programs. I aspire to get involved with implementing a policy for more flexible child care programs.
            Child care is very vital in a family’s life. Both parents may work and if it is a single parent home, I am sure the sole parent will need to work. Some of the jobs offered to them may not be a regular 9-5 jobs, so they would need a different type of child care, the standard morning to late afternoon child care providers won’t be of much help if the parent is working from mid-afternoon until midnight. You have second shift and the graveyard shift. This means, the parent would need someone available to care for the baby until they get home.
            Normally childcare usually opens at about 6 or 7 a.m. and then closes at about 6 p.m. and parents are not getting any leeway. Parents pay extra if they pick their child up late, and some parents cannot afford any extra child care costs. So, they probably have to find alternatives to standard child care, like having a relative or close friend watching the children. But, then again, this is your child and not everyone trusts everyone around their children, especially without the proper training.
            This brings me to my next point. Not everyone can afford childcare. Childcare costs have been skyrocketing lately. My sister has two kids in child care and she pays about $150 per week. Multiply that by about 40 weeks (not 52 because of breaks, sudden sicknesses, etc.) makes the cost about $6,000 per year. My sister only works at the daycare and this is her rate. So basically my sister is spending about one-third of her income on daycare fees. That’s an obscene amount of money for child care. There may be a home daycare that costs way less than an actual daycare center, but how trained is the worker and what’s the ratio of staff to children? These things matter, because again, you want to be able to trust who you’re leaving your child with.
            There needs to be trained workers in CPR and all the other skills needed to care for children. I almost say a teacher should be at these child care centers because they are trained in these manners, well maybe not CPR but still. So, anyways, you’d need trained workers who are willing to work 3 different shifts to make up for all three shifts in the workforce. I say centers should be open for 24 hours in a day. This would compensate for everyone’s work hours and increase the chances of low-wage workers getting the same child care service as everyone else.
            I wanted to focus on this issue because of research done by Marcia Stoll, David Alexander, and Christine Nicpon titled “Chicago Mothers on Finding and Using Child Care during Nonstandard Work Hours.” This paper mentioned that 61% of all single women with household incomes below $24,000 and 56% among all single mothers worked nonstandard schedules. So lowering the costs of child care while also extending the hours centers are open to 24 hours in a day will cure the issue of child care. Let’s call it child care reform!
            That paper by Stoll, Alexander, and Nicpon also discusses informal child care options like the ones I previously mentioned: a relative or close friend watching you child while you go to work. This option sometimes still has a cost because no one watches a child for free. So the parent or guardian could use child care. According to the paper, the CCAP, or Illinois Child Care Assistance Program, helps subsidize child care, but the parent would still have a co-pay. It also states that the copayment could be as high as 10% of the family’s income. In a single family home, this a lot! The parent may have other kids and definitely other bills and expenses to pay and then have to spend 10% of their income on one child to be in child care. This doesn’t even include costs getting to and from daycare either.

            I just want all parents to be ensured that their child is in safe hands when they drop them off at child care and also to not be stressed about costs. Maybe even the CCAP can be reinvented. I would like to further research what exactly makes a person identify as being eligible for CCAP and what happens if they are a few hundred dollars above low-income. They still may need child care funding but won’t get it. I would also like to find out what qualifications do child care workers need. I want to one day open a child care center in inner city Chicago, so I need to know these things. I am extremely excited about one day reforming child care.
If we insist that mothers of young children ought to be working in the capitalist system selling their labor and time for wages and then purchasing "reproduction of labor costs" from some other person (child care workers), then the logical conclusion is that we need one of a few options:
1) Payment for labor set at such high levels that mothers of young children will be able to hire child care workers to come to their homes and provide services.
2) Subsidies for parents so they will be paid to stay with their children and take care of them, and jobs provided for parents so they will be able to work while their children are in school when the children are school-aged.
3) Subsidies for parents so they will be able to put their children into child care facilities such as you have recommended, open at all hours, staffed with qualified child care providers, and affordable to parents with low incomes, 
4) A government service providing in-home child care by qualified workers for parents of young children.  Parents may go off to work a job for $10 per hour, and the government will pay to have a qualified child care worker go into the parent's home to watch their children for $10 per hour.  
5) No policy to help parents find qualified child care, forcing parents of young children to rely on informal care-giving arrangements or exchanges with friends and neighbors and family members. If parents cannot find adequate child care, they must decline to work, or they must work while their children have inadequate child care. 
It seems to me that some combination of the five options would be ideal. Cities offer more options because of population densities, but rural areas also have young parents facing this problem.  I do not see how one policy can fit all circumstances.  The reproduction of labor (the work of rearing children into responsible adults who will work and contribute to society) is valuable, and since it is not usually a thing that capitalism puts a value on and pays for, we haven't really worked out what to do about it.  

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