Table of Contents
The realities of the postmodern life burden women with additional responsibilities. The growing number of single mothers and the increasing importance of gender equity trends result in the situation, when women have to combine their workplace and parent obligations. Postmodern motherhood is a combination of numerous roles and tasks: women must be caregivers, mothers, and bread earners. They must work to support their children and to create favorable conditions for their development and growth. Meanwhile, children require attention and care which working mothers and working parents are not always able to provide. Daycare centers present an excellent solution to working mothers. They help working parents balance their workplace responsibilities with their parent tasks. While parents spend time at work, they must know that their children are cared for, and daycare centers provide such an opportunity. The question, however, is not in whether daycare centers are needed – that daycare centers are of critical importance for the future of our children is difficult to deny. The question is in whether the Government should provide daycare centers to working parents. The answer to this question is, certainly, positive – the government should and must provide daycare centers for working parents because daycare centers reduce poverty among working mothers and help them reintegrate with the labor market; because not all working women can afford sending their children to private daycare centers; because government subsidies will turn out a long-term investment into the child’s education and because government support is the only way for mothers and authorities to control the quality of daycare services.
On February 3, 2010, the New York Times wrote that due to the proposed budget cuts, about 15 day care centers would lose their subsidies or would be closed (Bosman). Brooklyn is facing the daycare crisis of the seriousness and complexity New York did not know before. 15 daycare centers are scheduled to close on, and local government authorities seek to persuade the local population that “most of the centers to be closed are in neighborhoods that no longer need as many slots for children in low-income families” (Bosman). The majority of the daycare centers scheduled for closure was opened around 20 years ago and was run by nonprofit organizations; today, the rents in the city have skyrocketed and local authorities are no longer able to support them. Meanwhile, thousands of children will appear in the streets, because their parents lack financial resources needed to hire a babysitter or to send the child to a private daycare center. An impression persists that local authorities in New York do not realize the potential which daycare centers have for the development and growth of the local population, regardless of its income. The valuable experience of other countries confirms the relevance and extreme importance of daycare centers for the social stability in society.
Daycare centers benefit society in both social and economic terms. For example, the case of Japan shows that daycare centers reflect in higher female employment which, in its turn, boosts consumer spending and creates additional $70 billion in wealth (Shellenbarger). The development of the state system of daycare centers led to a sharp increase in low-fertility rates, and now French women give birth to an average of 1.96 children per capita compared with 1.78 children ten years ago (Shellenbarger). Mothers confess they would love to have another child but they cannot afford hiring a babysitter, and supporting the second child without a job would be virtually impossible (Shellenbarger). Mothers fear that they will not be able to find daycare centers for their children, after they are 3 years old and are no longer eligible for employer-sponsored subsidies. Thousands of U.S. parents know what it feels to be at the bottom of a long waiting-list, while the costs of day care for children constantly increase: according to Shellenbarger, “center-based care for an infant cost $4,560 to $15,895 last year, and center care for a four-year-old ranged from $4,055 to $11,680 a year”. Given the complexity of the daycare situation in the country, the government should and must provide daycare centers for working parents. In this way, the government will reduce poverty and will help working parents to reintegrate with the labor markets, will provide affordable daycare for working parents, will create conditions needed to monitor the quality of day care, and will, finally, invest into the children’s future.
The government, daycare centers, poverty and labor markets
That mothers of newly born children experience serious difficulties with employment is a well-known fact. Employers are reluctant to hire mothers with small children, and mothers find it difficult to reintegrate with the labor markets. The fact of motherhood for women turns into a wall of separation between them and the rest of the world, and women with children face numerous obstacles in their striving to realize their economic potential (Brooks 439). Working mothers do not have adequate access to child care in the workplace. Unable to find a good babysitter and having no sufficient resources to send their child to a private daycare center, women have no other choice but to remain at home: as a result, they cannot support their children, while the economy, as a whole, loses a greater part of its working potential. With time, women tend to lose their education, experience, and working skills and, after several years spent at home with children, it will be even more difficult for a woman to find a decent employment. It would be fair to assume that the lack of daycare centers may be responsible for high rates of unemployment, especially among women.
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The government must provide daycare centers to working parents, because daycare centers break the cycle of poverty, provide mothers with additional employment opportunities and contribute to the stability of labor markets and economy (Brooks 439). The government support of daycare will create favorable employment conditions for mothers and will, subsequently, result in dramatic economic improvements. By providing day care to working parents, the government will break the vicious circle of parent-work-child dependencies, giving parents better freedom of self-realization. Women will be able to spend more time at work without worrying about child care issues – the factor that is likely to contribute to their motivation and performance (Brooks 439). Daycare centers will give working parents better opportunities to obtain an education and to improve their employment potential (Brooks 439).
It should be noted, that the welfare system in the United States underwent dramatic reconstruction during the 1990s. The passage of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families became the source of the new problems for the American daycare system (Brooks 440). Temporary Assistance for Needy Families added its share of complexity to the state of daycare among needy populations: from now on, parents on welfare are required to work while receiving assistance (Brooks 440). Yet, how can parents meet their obligations and legal expectations, if the number of daycare centers constantly decreases? Those, who join the workforce, have to stop obtaining higher education and thus zero their chances to make a good career. The growing costs of daycare debilitate young mothers’ options and do not let them find a decent employment. Simultaneously, government-supported daycare centers are likely to reflect in the boost of female employment. Women will be able to use available education opportunities to improve their knowledge and skills. Employers will benefit from skilled workforce. Labor markets will stabilize. These are just some out of many reasons, for which the government must create daycare centers for working parents.
Government support of daycare and its cost
The current state of daycare in the United States does not simply limit mothers’ employment options, but most mothers, especially working mothers, simply cannot afford sending their children to daycare centers. Even if the cost of daycare in a state-owned center does not exceed $4,000 annually, not all families and single mothers can afford paying this money for daycare. As a result, the government must provide daycare for working parents, to help them balance their budgets and to make daycare affordable and available to all parents, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Unfortunately, today daycare is gradually turning into a luxury. Fewer low-income families have financial resources needed to use the benefits of daycare. Budget cuts and the closure of numerous daycare centers in the U.S. create additional problems: governments view daycare centers as a burden and the source of the increasing budget deficits. Only with the help of the government can women resolve their daycare problems. Only with the help of the government can both parents find decent employment and support their children. Only with the help of the government can parents devote much of their time to bread earning, to make sure that they can meet at least the basic needs of their children.
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Needless to say, these needs are numerous and many: from food and health needs, to higher needs for education, socialization, and growth. All these require additional financial investments which become impossible, unless parents can afford sending their children to daycare. Government support is the only way for daycare centers to become affordable and available to parents. Government subsidies are the only means for daycare to reduce the costs of their services for working parents. Only with the help of governments will daycare centers continue to develop and grow, to be able to accept more children. Daycare centers must become a part of the government policies and initiatives which will support children and will improve their development opportunities. Government and the education potential of daycare centers
The government, federal and state authorities constantly seek to invest in children and to expand their development opportunities, and daycare isthe best means for the government officials to secure children from the future educational and career failures. Daycare centers produce a multitude of positive effects on children, and it is due to government support that all children, regardless of their socioeconomic status and financial capabilities, will have equal access to these socialization and education opportunities. The current state of research provides extensive evidence to the fact that daycare centers benefit children. According to Brandjten & Verny, daycare centers represent a unique and extremely balanced combination of child- and teacher-led activities, which stimulate kids’ development and growth (241). That means that children who attend daycare centers full-day have better opportunities to socialize with other children and to develop the basic learning skills, compared with their peers who attend daycare centers from time to time or do not attend them at all. Quindlen supports these assumptions and refers to the Abecedarian project in North Carolina, which explored the benefits of daycare centers and their effects on children and toddlers during 2 years – the results of the project confirm that the expansion of the government preschool programs results in the significant improvements of language skills in children (68).
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However, the more important are the long-term benefits of daycare centers, or the benefits which are likely to manifest later in life. These include children’s school achievements and successes and their ability to establish relationships with other people, their motivation, and their relationships with the family and workplace environments. For example, the results of the Perry Preschool Project in Michigan proved that children attending daycare centers full day later have fewer problems with law (Quindlen 68). Children who have an opportunity to attend daycare centers display better scholastic achievements, higher standardized test scores, and lower grade retention rates (Brooks 440). Children who stay in daycare centers full day earn higher grades later at school, while their transition to school is much easier compared with children who do not have an opportunity to attend daycare centers.
In the context of benefits which daycare centers offer to children and their parents, low-income families often become the objects of the major national and social concern. The fact is that children from low-income families often miss an opportunity to attend various types of school and out-of-school activities: families from low-income population groups simply cannot afford sending their children to out-of-school groups and activities. Dearing et al write that children from low-income families lack sufficient educational resources and thus may lag behind their peers (1546). To support daycare centers and to provide daycare to working parents means to promote equity and universal access to education. Daycare centers can be fairly regarded as the foundation of the children’s future, and if parents cannot afford daycare, the government should provide them with subsidized daycare opportunities. Governments must support daycare and provide daycare to working parents because daycare centers exemplify an effective investment into the child’s future. Daycare centers serve an effective source of education, communication, and socialization opportunities for children.
Certainly, not all is perfect with daycare: researchers report children experiencing stress and pressure (Brandtjen & Verny 271). More importantly, even the best care givers and daycare professionals cannot provide children with the due care because, when stressed, children lack resources necessary to establish closer relations with daycare professionals and thus may interpret their presence in daycare centers as a form of rejection on the side of their parents (Brandtjen & Verny 272). That, however, does not mean that the government must close daycare centers. Moreover, that does not mean that the government should not support daycare in the country. Because daycare centers lay the foundation for the success of the subsequent development and growth in children and provide better opportunities for their intellectual and moral maturation, the government must among the main providers of affordable daycare to working parents.
Governments and the quality of daycare
Today, only few daycare centers in the United States can quality as “high quality” – the majority of daycare centers, regardless of the form of their ownership, can hardly make their ends meet and have to sacrifice even the basic safety and security considerations. Newspapers and news streams regularly publish reports and scandals which reveal the dark side of daycare in the country. At the beginning of April, E.coli killed one and sickened three other children at a Washington state day care center (The Associated Press, “E.Coli Strain at Day Care Kills Boy, 4”). All children attended Fletch Family Daycare which “is run out of a tidy single-story yellow rambler in a large lot in Vancouver, Wash” (The Associated Press, “E.Coli Strain at Day Care Kills Boy, 4). Despite the fact that all hygienic practices at the daycare center were acceptable and followed the basic requirements, the daycare center failed to stop the spreading of E.coli infections from person to person (The Associated Press, “E.Coli Strain at Day Care Kills Boy, 4”). As a result, after one child died and three other children were hospitalized, the center was closed.
Such stories are not uncommon in the U.S. – mothers even create Websites which they use to share their scary stories about daycare centers and unprofessional babysitters. In March, two former Ohio day care workers were charged for slipping an over-the-counter dietary supplement into candy and giving it to their children to make them sleep during the nap time (Associated Press, “Day Care Workers Charged With Drugging Tots”). While daycare workers must carry a degree of responsibility for the children which attend their centers, they often fail to meet even the basic standards of professional performance. The situation, however, is no better with babysitters which may abuse and neglect children while their parents are at work. Thus, the government must support the development of daycare systems and facilities and subsidize them, to have a better control over the quality of daycare services.
Government support and the availability of additional material resources, on the one hand, will help daycare centers meet their needs and improve the quality of care and, on the other hand, governments and authorities/ officials will monitor their compliance with the basic rules of conduct and quality provision. Parents alone cannot control the quality of hygienic procedures in care centers; they lack the time and opportunities to analyze the state of kitchens in daycare centers and cannot be sure that workers do not feed their children with over-the-counter dietary supplements. Governments must support daycare centers, to give parents a degree of confidence that their children safe and secure, while they spend their time at work. Governments must support daycare centers to provide them with financial and non-material support, necessary to improve the quality of their operations and practices. Government must support daycare centers, to educate employees and to improve their workplace skills. Government should provide daycare to working parents, to ensure that they can spend their time at work and support their children, that they can afford daycare services, that the quality of daycare is more than acceptable, and that children have sufficient education, communication, and socialization opportunities.
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The state of daycare in the country leaves much room for improvement. There is still long way for daycare centers to go before they can quality as ‘high quality’. Meanwhile, local and state authorities close more and more daycare centers, unable to support them. However, the government must be the first to provide daycare to working parents. Daycare centers break the cycle of poverty; they help working mothers to re-integrate with the labor market and to obtain an education. The government must provide daycare to reduce poverty and to improve employment opportunities for working parents. The government must provide daycare to working parents, to make it affordable. The government must develop daycare centers and facilities, because the latter turn out to be the foundation of the subsequent child’s development and growth. Ultimately, it is due to government support that daycare centers can improve their practices and operations, while the government will have better opportunities to monitor their compliance with the basic norms and standards of daycare provision.