“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”
How about instead of looking to create more “high-quality, affordable childcare” we work to make it so both parents don’t HAVE to work as an economic necessity. I know many, many people who would love to stay home and raise their kids but simply cannot afford to do so.
I gave up my job because we ran the numbers and at the end of the day, after paying someone to care for the kids, it meant I would bring home a profit of about $10,000 a year. Was that amount worth it? Not for us. Now, I’m lucky; Toby makes enough for me to stay home. So, why don’t more families have that option?
I’m all for having affordable, high-quality childcare. But I also think that in many cases if one parent could financially afford to stay home and raise their kids yet still make ends meet, they would.
Similarly, for those of us who do stay at home, we shouldn’t be penalized or tossed aside when we reenter the workforce and start applying for jobs. This is my latest fear. While I care for our kids (make lunches and dinners; draw baths; do the laundry; clean the house; schedule doctor appointments; juggle soccer practices, swim lessons, piano lessons and play dates) I also try and keep myself on top of what I was trained to do in the workforce. Yet, since I have years of “nothing” on my resume, I’m probably facing great difficulty no matter how much I know or how good I am at what I do. Couple that with my age and my gender, and I’m probably screwed.
How about focusing attention on both issues? I agree with you, in that I know plenty of people who would like to stay home with their kids instead of working outside the home–or at least to have that choice. But “choice” is the word I am focusing on. I am one of those people who work outside the home not only because I have to, but because I truly want to. I love my son, but I also love my career, and I was lucky to be able to find childcare that allowed me to feel that I could work while also knowing that he was cared for, being educated, and loved (yes, loved — he is 7 now, but we still hear from his teachers from when he was 1). Had I not been able to find that level of care, my choice would have been much more complicated and heartbreaking.
Like I said, I was “lucky” to find good childcare, primarily because, let’s be honest, my husband and I were able to afford to pay for it. I have often wondered what goes through the minds of so many people who have to work (especially single parents), but simply do not make enough money to pay for quality care. I see handmade cardboard signs along roads advertising home-based childcare, that in many cases is not licensed and therefore not regulated. So many people have no choice but to place their children in places like that. How many children are in that home? What people are allowed to come in contact with the children? Does someone in the family smoke around the kids? Do the kids sit in front of the TV all day? And on and on.
Sorry about the rant; this is just something that I’ve thought about often. I wish I had answers.
I totally get this. I bring about $12k/yr (only $1k/mo, obviously) home at the end of the year…but it’s just enough that I can’t quit, which I pretty much hate. It’s so frustrating to work full time and pay someone else to watch my kids…but not really have the option for anything else. GAH.