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Father taking daughter into child care facility

Providing More Flexibility and Access to Child Care

Working families still struggle to find quality child care that meets their needs

Are you one of the many parents who fall into this category? Often times, parents are choosing to stick to their careers and head back to work after having a child, but there seems to be an epidemic that no one is talking about. Why are child care costs through the roof and why is access and availability to quality care that supports child development so hard to find? According to childtrends.org, there are four dimensions of early care and education:

  1. Reasonable efforts—the level of effort a family needs to put into educating themselves on enrollment and availability.
  2. Affordability—parent’s considering the financial contribution that will need to be accounted for.
  3. Supporting the child’s development—ratings from state departments and level of instruction/quality that a child will be receiving.
  4. Meeting the parent’s needs—convenience, hours of operation, within budget and most importantly, an environment where parents can trust their children to be safe, healthy and learning.

The above factors are all reasonable considerations for parents to have. For working parents, nothing is more important than ensuring that their children are safe and in stimulating environments that support learning and healthy development. Supportive learning environments are especially vital for our young children, whose brains develop more important connections in the first five years of life than at any other time.

High-quality early learning and development programs can make a tremendous difference in the lives of working families and their children. A high-quality early learning and development program for a child gives parents the stability to be productive employees and to have peace of mind when they are at work.

So why is this an issue for many working families today?

Child care providers are highly regulated, which protects children and parents, but also drives up the cost of providing care. For example, regulations mandate a certain number of children per caregiver, set guidelines for the training of caregivers, and specify the types of food and supplies that must be available, according to Child Care Aware. One result of these protections is that the cost of child care in the U.S. has risen to $9,589 a year on average, an even higher price tag than the average cost of in-state college tuition ($9,410). The price of infant care centers is even higher, costing parents 12 percent more than they’d pay for older children.

Meanwhile, productivity problems arise from lack of child care and cost the economy about $4 billion a year, according to NPR. “Too many workplaces are still structured as if only one parent were working and someone else were at home taking care of the kids and home front, but that’s just not the case anymore,” says Brigid Schulte, co-author of the study and director of the Better Life Lab at New America.

What can working parents do?

Time may be of the essence to some parents, but we can’t stress enough to plan ahead as early as possible in terms of connecting with other parents or support groups, comparing and researching child care centers versus nannies, and accreditation checks.

 Although you may be in a different situation than other parents, others may be able to help assist and educate you about the roadblocks in the way of child care and better prepare you for any situation that could arise. You can also talk to your local, state and federal policymakers and become a part of the solution to find ways to build a better infrastructure for children! This, of course, wouldn’t be an immediate solution, but a long-term goal that could be rewarding for other parents in the same situation as you.

Taking the time to visit child care centers and interviewing nannies/caregivers can really pay off in the long run. It’s important to make sure all child care centers you consider have trained teachers, and that there’s a curriculum in place that emphasizes developmentally appropriate learning and language development. Accreditation matters, as it indicates a dedication to constant improvement in all areas of care and the care and education of every single child should be of utmost importance to each center you visit.

Child care shouldn’t be a burden on families. Together, little by little we can fight for a better child care plan that benefits children and families to the highest degree. Our children deserve nothing less.

Be sure to follow the SAFY parenting blog for continued articles that support children, parents and families. At SAFY we believe in proactive, constant and practical solutions to support making the difference in the lives of children and youth. To learn more about SAFY and our services, call us at 1-800-532-7239.

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