4C’s Debbie Bruemmer knows parenting can be hard. How can parents support each other, instead of passing judgment?
In a recent news piece, Channel 9 got a lot of community comments about the recent indications that child care vouchers may soon change due to state budget cuts. Those commenting seemed afraid that some people are “getting a free lunch and it has to come to an end.” I read things like “learn how the rest of us live on minimum wage with no free Daycare,” and “if you can’t afford to care for ’em, don’t have ’em!” Am I as a parent supposed to choose not to have children because the cost of child care continues to rise?
What people don’t seem to understand is that child care is expensive whether you make minimum wage or have a decent paying job. Did you know that the average weekly rate for an infant in Southwest Ohio is $205.46 a week? That adds up to over $ 10,000 a year. What I could do with an extra $10,000! And what if I have an infant and a preschooler? Or what if I choose a (NAEYC) nationally quality rated center or one with a state SUTQ rating? The weekly fee is usually more! It’s a Catch-22 in most cases. You need child care in order to go to work and half or more of your weekly pay goes toward child care expenses.
Funding to assist parents with child care is already fairly minimal. The county or state voucher subsidy system is helpful for some families, but it still isn’t free. Even a working family with two adults and one child can only receive assistance if their cumulative gross income is $27,468 or less (150 percent of federal poverty level) and will have a co-pay. Even that may decrease in July. Headstart programs are available for parents and children who qualify, but space is limited.
So who really pays for the lack of quality care? Your child. My child. When you choose child care for your child, ask yourself, how is my child spending his day? Watching cartoons while a provider chats on the phone or folds her laundry? Or with a nurturing caregiver that knows about child development and plans early learning and age appropriate activities, because he or she has an education and opportunities for professional development? Programs that receive funding from the state and the government may be able to use those dollars on bettering their teachers and the environment; likewise, parents who receive funding assistance have more options for quality care for their children. As with all things, you get what you pay for!
What can parents do? Partly we can help to educate those around us. Respond to editorials and surveys on the news and share your side of the story. Help others understand why quality child care is important to you and your child and the difference it has made for your family. Contact your state representative. Take action now!