$10 a day childcare a terrible idea
Why $10/day daycare is a terrible idea that I am already sick of hearing about.
As a former private childcare provider I can assure you that good childcare actually costs an absolute minimum of $40/day based on private care for two children. This earns the care provider, who is doing one of the most important jobs on the planet, monthly earnings of just over minimum wage.
So if the parent is only paying a quarter of that, who is paying the rest? Clearly the taxpayer. How is this helpful? It puts low income parents in a position where they can’t afford to work without subsidized day care, which is really not adding a lot of, if any, income to the economy and with administrative costs will probably result in an overall deficit. Minimum wage earning parents will actually earn less than their child care costs in many cases. Pitifully low wages for private child care providers do not provide incentive for individuals to expand service or to provide reliable and consistent service. Licensed providers face a myriad of fees, licensing requirements, training costs and insurance, and I highly doubt that their per child care rate ends up being much lower with multiple children than an unlicensed provider with two. Most people I know who move away from childcare do so because they cannot make ends meet.
Back to the point. When you crunch the numbers, I just don’t see how $10 a day childcare, which really means that the parents only pay a quarter of the actual cost of $40 childcare, is even doable financially, and how it would cost the taxpayer any less than providing additional income to parents who stay at home and raise their own children. If we are going to throw money at childcare, in the vast majority of cases I for one would be much happier if we simply paid the children’s parents to look after them themselves.
I get paid three times as much to clean peoples houses as I did to look after their children. And even though I frequently cared for nine children in a sibling group day after day with no incident, I wouldn’t be allowed to take in more than two if they weren’t siblings, thus reducing my capacity for profit. If the marketplace isn’t supporting affordable childcare on its own there’s a reason for that, and cheap child care won’t fix it. I believe that any public money spent caring for preschool aged children should be spent first and foremost in ways that support people raising their kids themselves.
My children are grown now, but when they were young I stayed at home and raised them myself. That was my job. Even though it meant that we were on the very low end of the income scale for many years, it is a decision that I never regret, and it’s a decision that instilled my values, my skills, and my worldview in my offspring, and not someone else’s. I didn’t want somebody else raising my kids and poverty was actually an acceptable tradeoff.
I moved away from childcare as a career for two reasons; first of all because it was difficult for families to afford to pay me even a living wage, never mind what I am worth with my vast and valuable domestic engineering skill set. Which by the way I acquired by raising my own children and having to learn to make and do everything from scratch because I couldn’t afford not to (I realize that I might only be making sense to people over 65 with this statement). The other reason I left is because it broke my heart to watch the children’s sad little faces when their parents walked out the door every day, and I couldn’t blame them for being angry about being with me instead. I was a professional mother, but I wasn’t their mother, and no matter how much of their parent’s job I could do or how much I loved them, children want and need their parents.
As a member of a healthy society, I don’t want cheap childcare. I want good child care, provided by people who are passionate about it, are thoroughly experienced and deeply competent, and can make a decent living doing it. And I want that only if there’s no way that the children’s parents can or want to be raising their own kids. I also want the government to meddle in people’s raising of their children as little as possible.
I’m not going to point any partisan fingers here, but isn’t it more than obvious that throwing money at social issues is never the answer, little trooper?