Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Trouble With Home-Based Daycare

Waiting for the bus on our way home from daycare.
Our home daycare provider is awesome. I’m very happy that we found her back in February. She really cares about each of the kids & runs the daycare like a little preschool. Sprout has thrived under her care & comes home every day singing a new song or demonstrating new skills like identifying colours & letters or using better manners than we’ve taught him.

However, the trouble with a home-based daycare is when she gets sick, it closes down. This week we had three days of scrambling for care while our daycare provider recovered from a nasty bug. We’ve been lucky to have flexible hours at work so that we can make four hours of grandparent care a couple of days & work from home another day, with some entertainment provided by Uncle Mikey. I'm not sure what the other parents did.

I don’t blame our daycare provider—she’s doing the best she can. It's awful to be really ill when she's pregnant with a toddler to look after too. I blame the BC government’s lack of investment in early childhood education. If we’d been able to access a daycare centre—say, one of the 25 that I called to try to find a place back in February—this wouldn’t likely be an issue. If one staff member gets sick, there are other workers. The place doesn’t shut down.

It’s great that families can find care for their children with home-based daycares, but this isn’t really a solution to the childcare crisis in this province. Besides the issue of the daycares closing down due to illness of the provider or their child(ren), there’s also the fact that many of them cost more than a childcare centre. I found after calling literally dozens of centres that their rates were on average lower than what I found with home-based care providers.

Again, I don't blame the home daycares--I think everyone who takes care of children should be well-paid & well trained. I don't understand why our government seems to think that children younger than five don't deserve to have well-educated & fairly paid workers taking care of them & teaching them. 

We really need a government that is willing to invest in childcare so that every child who needs it has a space in a childcare centre. I support the $10 a day plan because that would make childcare so much more affordable for most families, which would mean more parents (read: moms) would be able to rejoin the work force. The impact of subsidized care is pretty obvious in Quebec--studies have shown that for every dollar invested in subsidized childcare, about $1.40 comes back by way of income & consumer taxes from more working parents as well as actual provincial GDP growth. (This article has links & more info)

You can read more in the Coalition of Childcare Advocates of BC's fact sheets here, then personally endorse the $10/day childcare plan here, then start bugging your MLA & the candidates in your riding about this issue. Talk to your friends, post it on Facebook & tweet it. Tell them about the return on investment & get the word out that (contrary to what Christy Clarke says) it would be a net gain, not an expense for our province.

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  1. My little one goes to home-based daycare too and while I understand that if 'my kid' get sick, well, she stays at home so the kid doesn't get sick. Fine, I'll take the day off from work I guess.

    But if the daycare provider get's sick, I think it's their responsibility to pay a sub for the day - we already paid for the service, right? so, if she can't provide it, she could call a nanny at least to look after them for the day under her guidance. I'd sure ask her for that.

  2. I totally agree with "mama and the city" that it should be the daycare provider's responsibility to get a sub! Three days of no daycare because of illness, well, I could maybe see one day because she's hit so suddenly and hard that she can't make other arrangements, but three sounds tough. Very tough for parents at the daycare!! Thank goodness you were able to make other care arrangements for those days!

    1. Well, the trouble is, she & her toddler had what sounds like Norovirus. We had the same thing & it hit us so suddenly there was really no planning ahead. She was really ill & got dehydrated enough that she went to emergency because she was worried about her pregnancy. I don't think it would have been feasible to hire someone to work at her house in this case.

      In terms of whose responsibility it is to find care when the provider is sick, the individual daycare can decide how they would deal with this situation & should include it in their contract. Ours states that we're responsible for finding care, so we knew that beforehand.

  3. I am all for the child care plan. but in terms of home based day cares, I totally appreciate the lower child to adult ratio, the fact that I don't have to worry about disgruntle staff being paid shit wages, the flexibility in hours, the fewer children and therefore fewer outbreaks of things like noro, and the fact that my kid is developing really strong relationships with the kids and the provider. to me, it's actually a great trade off for having to take care of hazel a couple of days a year unexpectedly. my day care provider has truly been a gift, and I know H is well loved there.

    1. Please don't rush to generalizations about group daycares! Ours is a non-profit society with a very involved community of 130 families across three locations. All parents attend two meetings and two work parties a year, and we get to know each other through these and through various fundraising events and activities. I am the Treasurer of our Society, so I know first hand that we pay our 26 full time staff very well, they have medical and dental benefits, paid sick days and an rrsp matching program. Plus they have the advantage of learning from each other and of being paid to keep up their credentials and keep their ece training current. There are definitely advantages to all sorts of diverse care arrangements, but it's not necessarily accurate to rush to judge the kind you have not chosen!

    2. Julia, in terms of the average pay across the board for ECE staff, you're right. They're underpaid & overworked. Obviously there are exceptions that are great like Eva's mentioned. Unfortunately, I think they're few & far between. Plus, when you're just desperate for childcare, being choosy isn't really an option. After calling 25 places & not even being able to get on a wait list for some of them, I was pretty frustrated with the lack of spaces.

      Also, Julia--the ratio for under 30 months is 1:4, which is the same as my home-based daycare, so it isn't always different.

      I think the government needs to fund childcare not just to subsidize it for parents, but also to improve the pay for workers there, which will improve the quality of care. Better paid workers with sick leave don't come to work sick. Better paid workers means less turnover. & so many other benefits to everyone...

  4. I'm not saying that these things happen in all large daycares, I'm saying it's less of a worry in small home based daycares. I don't mean to imply that you run your organisation one way or not. Please don't rush to take it personally.

    1. and that was meant to read 'less of a worry TO ME'


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