Monthly Archives: January 2012

Daycare Dilemma

I’m in somewhat the dilemma. My son is 2 1/2yo, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to keep him home with me since he was seven months old. I recently tried putting him in daycare part-time, for the social experience, but also to give me a chance to do some of my work-at-home during the day. However, he has had one illness after another since he started, and after going through rosella followed directly by pneumonia, I decided that this was not a great idea right now.

However, we are moving this summer, and I will have to find a job after we move, meaning that I will also have to find daycare for Michael, if not for Kate (who will be in first grade, but who has been in some form of daycare since she was a year old). We had a private sitter for Michael when he was an infant, since I don’t feel comfortable about putting an infant in group daycares, but my husband and I both had well-paying childcare jobs then, and we felt the expense was worth it. I doubt I can find a job that pays that well this time around, so I’m thinking about trying a smaller homecare situation, where there are a lot fewer kids to transmit diseases to each other.

Working Mothers

What would help me as a working mom is fair treatment from politicians and the media. I enjoy my life, and wouldn’t have it any other way, but it would be way cool not to have quite so many people thinking that I am doing something wrong and looking down their noses at me. (1) Quit it with the “it’s better if young children are home with one parent.” Pfui. Americans like the idea better, that’s all. Show me some legitimate research that shows this (there isn’t any). Really, both ways are fine. Kids like daycare and thrive there. Kids like to be at home and thrive there, too.

(2) Quit comparing childcare jobs with some impossible ideal of stay-at-home parenthood. I represent women getting restraining orders, and I’ve seen plenty of stay at home parents who have had their parental rights terminated. I’m *not* saying this is typical: it isn’t. But neither is the perfect mom (the image *is* a mom, not a dad) who takes her children out for interesting educational field trips every day, never loses her temper, never sticks her kids in front of the TV so she can get something done, gives her children only educational toys and nutritional food. Compare daycare to the *average* stay at home parent, not what you’d like to believe she is like.

(3) Quit it with the “some women *have* to work.” It is fine to work, even if you wouldn’t starve otherwise. (4) Bring some coherence to the treatment of poor women and middle class women. Poor women are supposed to “get off their butts and work”. Middle class women are supposed to quit their jobs and stay home, even if they’d much rather not. (5) Quit it with the working moms versus stay at home moms attitude. I know that U.S. likes to view everything as a big fight (preferably akin to pro wrestling), but this shouldn’t be a fight. We are all moms who love their kids, and we should be on the same side.

Daycare: Would Targeted Tax Credits Discriminate?

The Family Income Report provides color pictures showing trends of real median family incomes to increase awareness. Incomes have hardly improved past 2 1/2 decades, especially compared to the rate of improvement for prior generations – – especially for families with children – – while their tax rates for homes, FICA, etc. are much higher than prior generations. It is understandable such places economic stress on many families, forcing more mothers to seek work outside the home than might otherwise be the case – – and getting others to help pay day care cost is of interest to them.

Some family members justify their choice of mom working or not by saying it ‘takes 2 incomes to make ends meet,’ and they naturally hope for cheap daycare subsidized by others if possible. Yet the level of consumption & life style desired by some families (as necessary to ‘meet their needs’) may be much more than would be accepted by others as necessary to ‘meet their needs’ when considering priorities for mom to be home or not. For example, family A may desire consumption levels of new cars and furniture, eating out and packaged vacations requiring mom to work, whereas family B might reduce consumption by use of older cars and 2nd-hand furniture in a smaller house with only short vacations and less eating out – in order for mom to be at home full-time. Why, then, should government intervene to un-naturally shape social behavior and family choice in favor of those subcontracting childcare jobs (family A) vs. those families (family B) sacrificing consumptive life styles so mom can be at home because they believe a full-time mom is best and not want daycare of their children by others – – and when the ’stay-at-home-mother’ families would be required to chip in taxes to subsidize the others? Additionally, there is a Family C where high consumption can occur even if mom does not work, but mom wants to work for other reasons and therefore subcontracts daycare, but would also like day care subsidized by others. Is family B being discriminated against in favor of families A and C? Is it necessary for government to take actions promoting one family choice but not another?

Solutions for Bad Daycares

Let’s say, for sake of argument that the government decides to give a tax break to families like yours. (Or are you simply arguing that the tax break for families like MINE should be eliminated? I think they call those sour grapes.) How would such a break be determined. How much money would you get to save? After all, if I get a really cheap daycare, I would get to save less than someone who has to pay more. And how would Uncle Sam determine if mom is staying home with the kids because they can truly afford to do so because dad makes a good wage, or if they are struggling to pay the bills but feel it is very important for mom (or dad) to be home all day. Or, for that matter, if both parents are indeed employed full time and so making lots of money, but they happen to have been able to take advantage of a free child care provider. (After all, hardly seems right that YOU should get a $500 tax break while paying nothing at all but making two incomes while I get a $500 tax break for paying $2500 a year for child care.)

You have also avoided one other point that I have had in earlier posts. The government allows us to deduct many expenses that are necessary for work. I am partially self employed as a writer. The government allows me to deduct the costs of postage stamps that I use to send out my work, and of professional books and journals. If I wanted to keep track of it, I could even deduct the mileage for every trip to the post office and the electricity and ink I use to run my computer and print things out. They RECOGNIZE that these expenses are necessary for my work; therefore I do not have to pay taxes on that money. Now I COULD decide to have a job that has no overhead. Poor me …. I couldn’t deduct ANYTHING on my Schedule C. Or I could rent a private office for $500 a month and stick my computer in it. Then I could deduct $6000 a year! But since I don’t make anywhere near that amount off my writing that would be a bit silly. (But, as long as I make a profit at least 3 years out of 5 (meaning I would only be able to deduct a portion of that rent), the government wouldn’t care. They would accept that I need an office to do my job. It is a necessary expense.

Day Care Centers in Libraries

I remember mentioning on the list a few weeks ago that there needs to be daycare available EVERYWHERE that women go. I believe childcare jobs should be performed by trained, qualified personnel. Women are no longer at home all day long being SOLELY professional wives and mothers the way they were in the 19th century….therefore, there will need to be safe, affordable daycare EVERYWHERE that women need to go. I say this because the idea of having day care centers attached to libraries, or to the schools with which they are affiliated, is appealing, but there are still questions of staffing, space, and cost which don’t go away just because we say it’s the responsibility of ”the management of the places where women go.”

Someone does have to pay for these services, regardless of whether you’re talking about a not-for-profit entity or a private business. In the case of the former, it’s the tax-payers, usually, and therefore less obvious and painful, except when the tax bill comes. In the case of the latter, it’s the consumers–including the childless and those who actually can handle their kids, maybe even preferring to have them along rather than in professional day care while they are shopping, who pay. We select the place we do our shopping largely on the basis of price and a place that offered such superfluous day care services would not likely be competitive.

The word “affordable” is a key. What is affordable when you’re living at the limits of your budget anyway? Unless it’s subsidized, there’s no way this day care service is going to be provided by professionals. Drop-in day care is virtually impossible to make into a self-supporting enterprise. I’m puzzled at the idea that children would somehow be better served by spending the whole day going in and out of various professionally-run day care centers than spending time with their parents. Have we really reached the point where our children are so unmanageable that we cannot handle them while shopping in a supermarket, standing in a waiting line at a post office or utility company, etc., so we need to have other people paid to do that for is. If so, the fault lies not in the children or in society, but in ourselves, folks.

Different Features of Parenting and Employment

It makes a certain amount of theoretical sense, and, yes, you’re off-base on this. First, parents (or other guardians) have a joint full responsibility for the child. If they agree on a 50-50 split, and one of them (for any reason) does only 25 percent of the work at a given time, the other one can’t just stand back and say, “I’m doing my 50 percent.” The _work_ may be split 50-50, but the _responsibility_ is split 100-100. I just don’t see it making sense, socially, legally, or in any other real-world way, for an employer to be in a position to say, “Yes, your child has a high fever, but we think your spouse should take a sick day instead, so the kid’s just going to have to sit home alone and uncared for.”

That brings me to the second part, which is the extraordinarily offensive notion that employers should be able to micromanage their employees’ lives for maximum business convenience. Would you have to keep a log of child care activities to prove that you and your spouse shared the work equally? Bring it up to some kind of corporate hearing board in case of disputes? Sick leave and other forms of time off are specifically designated for illness of self or other family members. For employers to pass judgment on which family members should be allowed to take time off for bona fide illness at the very best invites a counterproductive bureaucratic mess. Thinking in such narrow, ompartmentalized terms is, btw, traditionally considered a male, “rational” activity. Determine what the childcare jobs portion is. Even if the employee IS divorced, suppose part of the responsibility of the non-custodial spouse involves helping out the custodial one if the kid is sick, so that one person doesn’t have to miss work all the time.

Do Boys Ever Think They’re Ready for Kids?

On top of that, a recent NPR program described a case where a group of boys is regularly asked to spend a portion of each week taking care of small babies. He announcer also mentioned that the boys now look forward to it. Unfortunately, I don’t have any more details on this, but it certainly sounds good. Indeed, very good! Those boys can now go out and get babysitting jobs or childcare jobs, moving in on the girls who monopolize it, and preparing themselves to be involved fathers.

Except that the current monopoly will work very hard to keep them off “their turf”. As does any monopoly which is threatened. Those boys are probably less likely to be afraid of, or threatened by, babies. However, they may be more aware of the responsibilities of: kids. In practice you probably need to convince the parents (especially mothers), who are the people who select babysitters… Chances are that if you are human, you have been babysat before.

Safety screen: Worker Tests to Protect Children

Childcare workers, school bus drivers, teachers and ministers of religion will be screened for child sex convictions under new laws to come into effect next month. All people working with children including scout leaders, private tutors and sports coaches who have direct access to children will have to make a legal declaration that they have no child-related convictions.

All preferred applicants for jobs that involve working with children will be screened for child abuse, child pornography, sexual activity or indecent acts. All other paid employees and volunteers in childcare jobs including amusement arcade workers, nurses and doctors in children’s wards and hospitals, scout and guide leaders, ministers of religion and sporting coaches will be screened.

In an Australian first, all new preferred applicants for jobs with children will also be checked for Apprehended Violence Orders involving children and completed disciplinary matters relating to children. The new laws, among the toughest in the world, will apply to anyone in unsupervised contact with children in both the public and private sectors and volunteer organizations.

Employers will also be able to do “spot checks” on employees to ensure children in their care are not at risk. If someone is declared a “Prohibited Person”, their name is registered with the Commission for Children and Young People and they will be banned from any child-related employment

The Importance of Preschool

Preschool is not academically necessary, any more than traditional school is necessary. However, like any other homeschooling parent a parent who chooses not to do the traditional preschool or childcare jobs should be sure that their kids have social interaction with other kids, time spent listening to books, and lots of learning experiences-in fact, all kids need these no matter what type of preschool they have.

Having said this, some public schools and many private schools look on preschool as a beneficial thing to have on school entrance, because of the social and behavioral aspects. If this is the case in your area, it’s a good idea for your child to have some pre-k experience, so he/she won’t be viewed as “less able” than the students who have it, regardless of actual skills.

The learning philosophy is important. There are four basic kinds of preschool philosophies: Montessori, Waldorf, academic, and playful learning. There was always some free play time, with various centers (blocks, play kitchen, book corner) available for each child to choose. Then there were age-appropriate toys, stories, craft projects, and activities for the whole class. These always had a learning component, but there was never any “school work” that was identifiable as such. There was outside time with a jungle gym and swings, except in very inclement weather

How to Cut the Cost of College?

Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to pull things out of context? So what IS the point of going to college for years to in order to hold the lowest level care home and daycare jobs? If all someone is going to be doing is lifting dead weight and shoveling shit, they can get those childcare jobs right off the street. My very highly accomplished aunt was an RN, and it was a field that I had considered as a kid. This country would grind to a halt without RN’s. Or rather, there would be a four hand scramble to get substitutes in pronto, and open new schools to train new ones.

The case in point is the two year degree RN programs. You would be hard put to point out any other professional field that has a shortcut to someone who needs the work. Nursing is one field where the educational dept doesn’t throw in roadblocks to getting there. An LPN essentially undergoes a training-on-the-job with a few classes, and the program quite often IS specifically intended to get people trained to do some of the “nursing” jobs that don’t require much technical knowledge (cleaning and changing dressings, etc.).