There are a multitude of issues with the cost of daycare in this country and just how little our government does to help working families with these costs (now in my ideal world daycare is similar to public school – with slight adjustments since it is not a service that everyone needs, but generally the people who need it really need it). All I have to go on so far (in my short time as a parent) is my own experience, but let me tell you finding, getting in, and affording the daycare you want for your child is rough. Daycare doesn’t have to be fancy, but you do need caregivers who not only have been educated to care for children, but people who generally enjoy what they do and care about each child who comes through their classroom, which I know is a lot to ask for on the salary and lack of benefits these teachers get. And that is a huge crux of the problem. Many parents can’t afford to pay much more than they are already paying, but they want quality teachers that should be paid a salary much higher than they are getting. I love my daughter’s teacher, she is warm, kind, and interactive, and my daughter loves her too. I think this woman deserves paid holiday time (and probably a lot more than she’s getting), but I still bristle a bit when asked to pay for days the school is closed (it’s a monthly tuition). It’s not that I don’t want to pay her teachers, but our daycare is our highest monthly bill (it’s more than our mortgage, taxes, and association fees combined – granted we live in a one bedroom condo so our mortgage is lower than some).
Recently I read an article stating the childcare costs more than instate college tuition. Which was probably meant to be a little shocking, but for those of us paying for daycare the reaction was a bit more, “well, yeah…” But how is this okay?! My partner and I are doing all right salary and career wise – not stellar, we both choose careers in the public/academic sector so millionaire status isn’t coming anytime soon, but together we make decently over the household median income of $53,000. Which, I find more terrifying for the country as a whole. There is half a country making less than us, who may not even want to have both parents working, but need them to and affording a good daycare is a stretch for us. It also makes me mad as hell. Our country does so little to help families, especially those who need it (having to pay $10,000 + a year for decent childcare for an infant is ridiculous). We subsidize gas and corn, but can’t put any money towards families to help take care of their children?