Thursday, February 23, 2006

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.

Exeunt.

14 Comments:

At 9:45 AM, Anonymous laura said...

Hey Jen,

You should submit this post to local papers. It is very articulate and creative..love the intermissions.
More people need to be aware, who is running parliament anyways? oh .. right.. old white guys whose wives have had the luxury (or pressure to..depending on the presence and quality of choice) of staying at home.

:)
Submit it!!!!
Laura.

 
At 10:08 AM, Blogger sarah said...

I agree completely with you Jenn. Of course, the other option for people in our position is to just not have kids. Which I'm totally not cool with, but I KNOW that I would be incapable of staying at home. Twenty-five years ago, when the old guys had kids of babysitting age, most mothers did stay home to raise the kids. I know mine did. Society has changed dramatically since then, and I think our government should make some sort of effort to reflect that. 100$ a month is crap.

 
At 10:45 AM, Blogger Thérèse said...

Exactly.

I personally think there should be a national childcare program that renders daycare more affordable.

It's one of those things though. Some people feel that they don't have children so they shouldn't have to pay for those who do, etc.

There's always someone who will be unhappy, no matter what's done for the greater good.

I agree with Laura. Submit it.

 
At 12:28 PM, Blogger jenn said...

Laura- Thanks! I think I will submit it... maybe to the Bruns too, just for the heck of it...

Sarah- Seriously. Should we have to choose between having a family and our quality of life? (both from a financial and emotional perspective) I think not. I'm with you- I'd hurt something if I had to stay at home... and we shouldn't have to.

Therese- I agree. The system should be affordable, if not completely free. As should many other things... but that's another post...

I love how people do that- when their money is going to pay for missiles and jack-boots, they don't care, but when it's going to pay for the well being of the next generation, they're up in arms. It's not like they're actually paying a dime more, either. People have seriously messed up priorities. Go figure.

 
At 7:30 PM, Blogger sarah said...

Not everyone is unemployed, but we still pay for that. And a zillion other things that may not necessarily apply to us directly, but are for the greater good of the country or its people.

 
At 5:14 AM, Blogger jenn said...

Exactly. ;)

 
At 9:08 AM, Anonymous laura said...

I totally agree with you...i also think that if a mother or father decides to stay at home with her/his children she/he should have the right to make that choice....the state should make it easy for them either way.. in my opinion.
The dual income bay-street laywers should have free & quality childcare..at the same time the admin assistant & stay at home father should receive some sort of state compensation for their equally important freedom to choose.. what do you guys think?

 
At 8:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn,

Ideally, I will spend the best part of my thirties at home skating with my whelps on the backyard rink and watching soap operas in the afternoon while my wife makes more money than I ever could hope to. This particular young white guy would love to be the one who stays home with the kids. I can't think that I'd rather have some perfect-snowflake-pushing government-sponsored "youth educator" in charge of my kids' most formative years than myself or my wife... whoever has less earning potential, to be honest.

Greg

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger Thérèse said...

Greg,

Marry me?

-Thérèse

 
At 5:16 AM, Blogger jenn said...

Laura- agreed. But here we get into the debate of whether or not people should be paid for staying at home and raising the kids. I agree with you- they should, but it's contradictory to the economic set up of our society- paying people for labour that doesn't directly produce some form of quantifiable value...

Greg- admirable sentiments. I second Therese's notion, and only hope that you are among the lucky ones who are able to sustain the quality of life you describe on one income. If so, choose the stay home with your whelps ;) If not, what then?

ps- to those who suggested I submit this, I've done so- to all provincial rags and the Bruns. Keep your eyes peeled!

 
At 5:24 AM, Blogger jenn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Laura said...

Hi Jenn
I think you are very right on that point...it is definitely extremely problematic to pay people to stay at home with their children.
I guess I just naturally see it as an unfair advantage that the rich have over the poor - the choice of whether or not to raise one's own kids.

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger jenn said...

I couldn't agree more, Laura. But in order to rectify the situation, we're talking some pretty hardcore structural changes to our current society. Not that I'm against that- you know I'm not ;) All I'm saying is that as things stand right now, and assuming that the revolution is still a few years off, a national childcare program seems like the best and most feasible option...

 
At 4:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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