Open Letter to Those Who Don't Believe in Publicly Funded and Regulated Daycare
In response to the commenters on this article in the Toronto Star—and every article ever—about the need for safe, affordable childcare for working families.
Look, I get that you don't think it's fair that you, as a taxpayer, should have to help me pay for childcare. That totally makes sense. But I think you're missing the point of what we as parents of young children are asking for.
We don't want you to pay for our childcare, we want to pay for it. Are happy to. But these days childcare costs more than rent (or mortgage, if you're lucky enough to have one), and some families (like mine) need a little help.
"So don't have children if you can't afford them" you say? Well, of course, having children should only be for the rich, how silly of me. Also, I'm not poor. I'm firmly middle-income, and even I, with my university degree and my post-grad college diploma, and full-time job, can barely afford daycare for my modest two (not six!) children.
"So stay home and take care of your children yourself if you can't afford daycare". Again, I would love to. But unfortunately for you, we live in 2014, not 1952, and the income of one parent is no longer enough to support a family.
"Then you should live in a town where you can afford to have one parent stay home". Yeah, we'd all like to live in the country wouldn't we? But that doesn't change the fact that most of the jobs are in expensive-to-live-in cities. Spending all that extra time commuting to my city job will certainly add to the amount of time I can spend taking care of my children... oh, wait. It won't.
I live in the city, fairly close to where I work. I don't drive a fancy car, just a good old minivan. We don't buy fancy clothes (or any really) and we don't go on vacations. We wake up, we go to work/school/daycare, we come home. Rinse, repeat.
What families like mine need are places to send our children where they are well cared for. And you know, it's not that fact that we're asking for subsidized daycare. I don't even qualify for it, if you must know. I make too much money for that. In fact, it was once suggested to me by a nice lady at the subsidy office, that if my husband and I were divorced, only my income would be considered in the calculation and then yes of course I would qualify for daycare subsidy. That's a good plan, why didn't I think of that? o_0
We're asking for affordable licensed childcare. Centres where the staff are paid a good wage and the health and safety of both staff and children is looked after. Even one home daycare where a child is at risk is too many.
So here I am, willing and able to pay for (non-subsidised) regulated daycare, but, oh wait, there aren't any spots available. Worse yet, literally every single licensed daycare centre in my neighbourhood (seriously, even the ones 30 minutes out of my way in either direction of where I live and work) have waiting lists two to four years long. When I got pregnant with my first, I put him on every waiting list, except for the ones that charged (how can you charge for the privilege of being on a waiting list that you have to re-pay for every year that you are on that list I ask you?). I heard back from only one. Three years later. While I was on mat leave with my second child. Who (ironically) they did not have a space for. They wouldn't hold the space until I needed it when I went back to work six months later, and they wouldn't hold a spot for his brother who would need care as well. I politely turned them down.
Even having said all of the above, I must say that I've been blessed with the excellent quality of home childcare that I've been able to find so far. My current home care providers are angels sent from heaven. We are very lucky to have found them. But eventually my children will outgrow their care and I'll have to start looking for those invisible after-school program spots that won't eat up half my income.
So no, we're not asking for the moon here, just a nice safe place to leave our kids while we're out bringing home the bacon. They used to say that it takes a village to raise a child. No one ever tells you that oops, sorry, the village is full up right now. Try again later.