51: Our Weekly Child Care Rituals #LifeWideLearning16

While you have young kids, their care is pretty much all that matters. Between the time that they are born and when they are first enrolled in elementary school, there are approximately 1500 weekdays that aren’t holidays. Many of these days are spent in logistical turmoil for trying to figure out how to ensure a caring environment for your children while you are otherwise engaged.

I have stayed home with my children on many of these days, as has my wife. But, in the case of each of our children, we have made the decision to send them to a “school” prior to elementary school. For our older two, we chose an in-home day care, The Fisher Early Learning Center and very briefly Primrose of Littleton and A Children’s Learning Center and Preschool at the United Methodist Church. For our youngest, we have chosen a neighbor for in-home day care and Centennial Montessori. Soon, we will have to make yet another decision, as the school has made a policy change, expecting him to attend at least 4 days a week, and we aren’t ready for our two year old to make that commitment.

We have spent countless hours discussing and debating. We have tried to justify money for tuition and for the educational experiences at each institution. We have switched schedules and times for drop-off and pick up nearly every week for the last 9 years. I believe that we have done right by our children, but I know that many families are not so lucky to have these choices.

I also know that the sheer amount of time and effort it has taken us to find our cobbled together solutions could have been much better used in supporting a system of schools and child-care centers around us. If there were, let’s say, universal early childhood education and child care for working families, the massive amount of stress and financial hardship that faces families with young children every year could be eliminated.

So that is the law I would put on the books. More than JumpStart for certain socioeconomic levels and certain schools, we need to create opportunity for all families to support their kids through the first few years. We need to ensure that all kids start their educational adventure in the way that serves their needs as well as the needs of their parents to continue to earn a living.

And while this law would require a significant investment, it shouldn’t just be a public venture. If given the right incentives, many small and large businesses would be happy to contribute to early childhood education, as it would allow their employees to have far fewer “sick days” to cover for a lack of care. In addition to the societal good and the financial good, this law would have a huge benefit for individual family. They would have many more options that are of high quality rather than the vast amount of unaccredited care solutions that are in unsafe homes or makeshift schools and churches.

While I am close to the end of our family’s saga for finding ECE and child care for our children, I know so many others that are not. This is an enormous issue for the modern working family, and it is likely that legislation is the only way it will get better.

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