In an era where so many households require two incomes in order to survive, child care has become a necessity. Unfortunately, there are many issues within the daycare structure that impair parent’s ability to go to work, or forces parents to take time off they cannot afford. Parents who are unable to work because the cost of daycare is prohibitive face issues with gaps in their employment history, which reduces their future ability to be hired and the pay rate they will receive. Parents who end their children to day care, but the day care does not cover all of the hours needed face the issue of missing work, and therefore making a bad impression upon their employer. The Daycare system needs to be more affordable and offer more hours in order to be a greater benefit to families.
Most daycares are open 6 am- 6 pm, and are closed on various holidays. This prevents parents from being able to get positions at night, as well as forcing parents to take additional days off that they cannot necessarily afford. Also, weekend daycares are all but nonexistent. To compound the issue is the cost of daycare. Daycare costs for a four year old child range from $344 per month to $1,472 per month around the country (US News & World Report, 2016). Younger children cost more than four year old, and of course there is the issue of having more than one child who is daycare aged. In fact, “In a recent survey of Parents readers who use child care, 84 percent said that finding affordable, quality care is either a challenge, very hard, or impossible. And our survey with the Too Small to Fail Campaign found that 66 percent of parents think the lack of access to child care is a serious problem”
(Parents.com, 2016). The cost creates a system where either one parent does not work, or most of one parent’s paycheck is going towards daycare costs. To compound the issue, lower incomed parents have very little options for assistance, and there is often a wait list for those who need it.
The issue of hours, cost and helping the lower income can be addressed together and help reduce each issue in a symbiotic fashion. First of all, offering extended hours will open up a new line of income with a minimum monetary output. This would allow for an overall reduction in rates. Secondly, lower income parents could be offered a chance to become certified to work at a daycare. Once certified, they could work the night and weekend hours and in return receive reduced daycare expenses as well as a paycheck. This would help more parents return to work, increase the jobs parents could get and also help reduce the need for daycare assistance.
One of the biggest problems with the plan is finding funding for the education costs of certifying parents to become daycare workers. There would be the question of receiving grants from the state, as well as convincing local counties to set aside funding. Since more parents working would eventually increase tax revenues, eventually a portion of those revenues could be used to fund this program. Once enacted, the program would be a net benefit for any area it is enacted in. Also, with more parents working, the necessity for other social programs such as Section 8 housing and food stamps may be reduced. Since people with more money are more likely to purchase more, the amount the state receives in sales, excise and property
taxes will also increase (Justfacts.com, 2016). This means that an increase in parents working will have an all over beneficial effect on states. The initial investment to train parents to be daycare workers will have a long-term positive impact.
Another issue will be finding parents or employees to work odd hours and holidays. One way to mitigate this is ensuring daycares are at least closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas every year. Those two holidays ae generally the most important holidays to have off, and most parents do not need child care on these days. Also, it would be prudent to reduce the number of employees working on federal holidays since the amount of children will likely be reduced as well. This will allow the employees to take turns working holidays; for example, some would work Memorial Day, others would work on Labor Day. This would allow for fairness, and most employees would be satisfied with the arrangement, creating a winning situation for everyone involved.
Assuming that daycares come on board, the next project will include finding funding for educating parents who are unable to work due to the cost of daycare to be able to work in a daycare. This will mean talking to city council members and state politicians to change budgeting and receive funding. Grants and scholarships could also be pursued. Also, an arrangement could be worked out with the local community colleges to provide scholarships or financial aid to these parents. There are a lot of funding opportunities, and there is little doubt that one would find the necessary funding for this project.
Next, parents who are willing to receive training will need to be found. Using the food stamp program, WIC, etc. could help to locate parents in need of this program. They could send out a letter informing parents of the opportunity, with the information of who to contact. Background checks would need to be done on each person interested, since certain types of crimes prevent one from being a daycare worker. This of course would be an additional cost. They would need free child care while attending school, and these costs would need to be factored into school costs when presented to the various possible financiers.
As a professional, trying to implement a program such as this could either improve my career or be a permanent blight on my resume. A program like this would be huge, and could be replicated all over the United States should it prove to be successful. This could lead to the opportunity for traveling in order to help implement the program, as well as advising others long distance. A successful program such as this would be something I could take a lot of pride in, and would make me a more valuable employee. On the other hand, to try to implement a program such as this and to fail could reflect badly on my abilities as a social worker. Whether I could influence people in a positive manner or not could be brought into question. It could mean I am not given major projects to do ever again, which would have a huge effect on my future career. It also may mean giving up a stellar recommendation should I ever pursue employment elsewhere. This would be extreme, since program ideas such as this often fail, but this does not mean it could not happen.
In order to ensure that trauma-informed practice is being used daycare providers will need to be trained in spotting signs of neglect, physical and sexual abuse in the children under their care. They will also need to know who to contact should they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. Social workers who interview parents for the possibility of receiving education in order to work at a daycare will need to also recognize possible signs of trauma, and also need to ask specific questions, such as if the person feels safe within their home. By combining both of these positions ability to observe the children and the parents, those enduring trauma will be more likely to be found and given the help they need.
Even with the possible negative repercussions of failure, a program such as this is well worth the time and effort to try and implement. There are so many layers of benefits to the public and the people within the program that it would be well worth the time and effort. The primary benefit would be to parents who could either go back to work or who could work more varied jobs with varied hours. Secondly, parents who could not afford day care before would be given the opportunity if they wanted to. As a result, they would also receive training that could benefit them long after their children are past daycare age. This could create a stepping stone for more education and better future jobs. Either way, this would also allow more families to stop using food and/or housing assistance. This would decrease the amount of taxes used for these programs, while the amount of taxes being collected would generally increase. Since more parents would be working, and some would also be working better jobs, they would be making more. This will increase the amount of taxes they pay in income tax. It also will increase their spending habits, therefore increasing the amount collected in sales tax. It will even increase the amount of property tax being collected, since more families will buy houses versus rent. While the program may never get off the ground, it would be wonderful if it did. It would solve many societal and family issues and more.
Justfacts.com. (2016). Taxes – Just Facts. [online] Available at: http://www.justfacts.com/taxes.asp [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].
Parents.com. (2016). The Child-Care Crisis. [online] Available at: http://www.parents.com/baby/childcare/child-care-crisis/ [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].
US News & World Report. (2016). These Charts Show the Insane Cost of Child Care. [online] Available at: http://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/10/08/these-charts- show-the-insane-cost-of-child-care [Accessed 25 Apr. 2016].