Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Three Practical Reasons For Pervasive Child and Afterschool Care

I have always appreciated the challenges that single-parents face but that was from a workplace perspective. From that vantage point, I was always impressed over the years as I observed how several single-parents who were working with me raised children on their own from birth or pre-school all the way into college.

I was pleased when DCVB, for whom I was chief executive for 20+ years was recognized nationally for being family friendly and workplace flexible.States That Have Passed Afterschool Care

But a recent, more up close and personal experience, has given me an even deeper empathy, particularly about the need for high quality, affordable childcare and extended afterschool care.

Childcare alone takes more than 26% of “living income standard (LIS,)” an estimate of the various expenses for a family of four in Durham. This is a much thorough analysis than the outmoded Federal Poverty Level and worth a read.

To put the 26% for childcare in Durham in perspective, that’s more than housing and healthcare or transportation expenses combined. Of the poor families in Durham, nearly 50% work and 32% own their own homes and I don’t have it at my fingertips but I’m certain a disproportionate share are single-parent households.

Now before you go getting all judgmental on me and thinking to yourself, “here goes another bleeding heart,” or “didn’t these people bring this on themselves,” or that “you shouldn’t have to pay for it.”

Just think this through with me. I don’t think this is time to be judgmental or “holier than thou.” Here are just three of many pragmatic reasons why I believe the need for universal childcare/after-school care, especially for single-parent households is about much more than just household expenses:

  • It is pivotal to productivity in the workplace. Working parents must be assured their children are in good hands in order to flex with the demands of the workplace and the workplace needs single-parents.

  • It is vital to mental and emotional well-being. Single-parents in particular rarely have the backstop care-givers and that they need as respite so they can function both as a good parent and in the workplace.

  • Most important, it is absolutely critical to “closing” the achievement or student performance gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children, something crucial both for humanitarian and economic reasons.

Those of us who have studied “apples to apples” breakdowns of achievement weren’t surprised at all by the recent Durham Herald-Sun analysis indicating that things have begun to slip in Durham after years of hard fought gains. Personally, I think we took our “eye off the objective” as a community.

We allowed the intensity and focus DPS had underway for several years to be traded for quieter, more civil school board meetings. Frankly, we need to get back to what former superintendent Ann Denlinger meant by keeping the “main thing, the main thing.” If that means we need to deal with less than civil elements during school board meetings then so be it.

And we need to challenge those who don’t want to pay for better childcare and afterschool care because they are all hung up on some moralistic, down their nose judgment. “But for the grace of God…”

We can either stay preoccupied with judging and stereotyping people we don’t know and circumstances of which we know nothing about or we can make things more productive at work, in the home, in school and in society.

We’re already paying for it in societal costs anyway, we just as well pay for it on the front-end to make society better and more productive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe you can share with us how this childcare would be paid for. The federal government is broke , and the states are not far behind.