Catch 22... with kids.
The problem of being able to find and pay for adequate childcare in this day and age is one that most people seem to accept as one of those things in life that just has to be worked through... and always will do, but my thinking is that we shouldn't have to choose between a reasonable quality of life for our families and taking care of our children.
It should be a given... shouldn't it??
The Setting: the 16 South bus at 7:45am. Crowded. Two dads, seated with their respective daughters (~6 years old each) are chatting while their children introduce their dollies to one another.
The Scene: The topic of conversation (which was impossible not to overhear as I was seated approximately 0.5 feet away from it) was not Canada's abysmal loss to Russia in Olympic hockey, but childcare- the availability and the cost thereof (both daddies were escorting their little darlins' to daycare on their way to their respective places of employment).
The Problem: As I observed the discussion, it became more and more disturbing to me. The overall theme of the discussion was how lucky each had been to find a place for their kids in daycare. As the dollies danced together and farted in one anothers' face (awwww, aren't they cute?) both parents confided that the price of daycare was prohibitive, but what could they do? The kids had to be taken care of, and both Mom and Dad had to work.
... the dollies were now tap-dancing on thin air... it's amazing how dollies can do that...
The Rant: This is a theme that is very familiar to most people, even if they don't have kids. The cost of childcare is astronomical. Many families just can't afford it, so they end up relying on a relative or two, or the kids end up raising themselves (except for the fact that it is illegal to leave a child under the age of twelve unattended... or is it ten? Either way, the point is the same, if you can't afford daycare, don't have any able family or friends nearby, and you have to work, you're essentially screwed, or at the very least, forced to become insanely creative). In fact, for many young, dual income families, once you've factored in childcare and transportation costs, it's actually cheaper for one partner NOT to work- ie: these costs not only absorb one person's income, but actually start eating into the second (and you JUST KNOW that nine times out of ten, it is Mom who's expected to be the one to give up her 'day job'). What's wrong with these pictures?? Or worse yet, what the hell are single parents supposed to do?
And on top of all this, even if you have enough income to actually pay for someone to look after your kids, you still have to worry about actually getting them a place in a daycare facility. And you'd better believe that the competition for these coveted spots in our sleepy little town has become cut-throat. I ask again: What's wrong with this picture??
...at this point in my thought process, I notice that the dollies have morphed into light-sabres and that their owners are now locked in a do-or-die battle...
Now don't get me wrong: I'm not suggesting that care-givers be paid less. Quite the contrary, in fact: Most care-givers are extremely underpaid, and this is something that should also be addressed. So what's the solution? Should the government pay?
The Solution(?): As most of you probably know, the recent federal election brought forward promises of a $100/month childcare subsidy from the party that actually won. Upon discussing this with my one friend who actually has a child, I discovered that the average monthly cost of childcare per month is actually in the neighbourhood of $900- $1000 (~$6/hr, ~8 hours/day, 5 days/week)- and that's CHEAP childcare. What the hell is $100 going to do to defray that kind of cost?? And now, on top of that, for those of us that live in New Brunswick, our glorious leaders are considering scrapping the childcare program altogether. Great idea, guys!
It seems to me that if the federal government put even a fraction of their military budget into social programs, including childcare, we could come up with something a hell of a lot more feasible for the majority of parents than the extremely creative solutions that people are currently forced to come up with... the mythical creature that is a national childcare program, perhaps... And that's just to start. But alas and alack, our current governmental structure is simply not up to the task of dealing with the social issues that have arisen as a result of said structure (among other things). Thus, I fear that the people of this country will continue to grapple with the Catch 22 that is trying to earn enough money to provide basic care for their children whilst attempting to ensure that there is actually someone there to provide said care.
Even though I know most of you don't currently have kids, and are in fact eons away from even considering a little bundle of joy, I'm interested to hear everyone's thoughts on this...
... by the time we reached my stop on the line, the dollies were locked in a vicious wrestling match... accompanied by ear-splitting giggles...
Ah to be six and worry-free again.