In a feedback to another post, I read something that got me all riled up. The person said that many people are willing to pay more for lawn work than for child care or to have the inside of the house cleaned. Let me begin by saying that in most cities, garbage collectors make more than daycare workers and city employees have benefits while most daycare centers don't provide much in the way of benefits.
During the 50's through the 70's, I was a stay at home mom but when we came to Houston in 1982, I decided to go to work. Since there aren't many CEO positions open to a 45 year old with no experience, I went to the daycare center down the street. I found out that, while minimum wage was walking around money for me, many of my coworkers were single moms who had to get by on it and were working daycare to have a place for their own kids to be all day.
All states require daycare people to take a certain number of hours of continuing education courses to work. These, many times, are paid for by the employee and are on weekends which means time away from family and chores. In many situations the allowance for classroom materials is meager at best. This means some folk spend out of pocket for extras. Near the end of each work day, classes are combined after children start to leave. As the classrooms empty out, one of the persons who has had our nation's future in his or her hands all day gets to cart the garbage out, and clean all the tables, toys and floors with whatever disinfectant is permitted. Things haven't changed much since I first started out. As recently as 2004, I contacted several centers in different areas of Houston, under pretense of looking for a job, to compile information to pester the state legislators on behalf of daycare workers in Texas. I found that while some do offer medical insurance it is so expensive no one can afford it. I also learned that people in the poorer neighborhoods are still working in those same conditions which faced me in 1982.
I would like everyone who reads this and has children in daycare to go to bat for the daycare worker. Push for a livable wage and reasonable benefit package. After all, these people are early childhood educators and should be paid and treated as such.
By MartyD from Houston, TX
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Hooray for bringing up this subject. Our precious children are suffering for lack of skilled, well-paid day care teachers. And they are teachers, not babysitters. When you compare the number of hours your children spend at daycare with just about any other activity, it becomes clear where they learn to handle daily events. They are like sponges absorbing knowledge and behavior patterns from their caregivers. They deserve the best and in order to attract the best we have to offer the best employment opportunity to the smartest, sweetest, most enthusiastic daycare workers. It,s such a loss to the children and to the hard-working devoted teachers when we fail to invest the most, for the greatest return. Our futures depend on it,too. I am with you 100%. Talk to anyone ,anywhere, anytime you get the chance to influence their thinking and actions towards daycare.
Three cheers for you and all who work with children! I can relate.
I worked as a daycare and pre-school teacher with a college degree in elementary education. I never did find a full-time teaching position in the schools because when I graduated from college there were 200 applicants for every job out there.
Wow--I could've written this myself--it's so much in my same vein of thought! I've been a preschool teacher for about 13 years. I can attest that all of what you've said is true. You'd never believe how many times I've heard "Why don't you look for a better job?" (I have a university degree, so people assume that a daycare job is "below me"). Well, I love my job and have a preschool age son, so it's an ideal situation at this stage in my life. However, I recently had a yearly review at work with a new supervisor. When I told her that I've spent a decade at my center and don't even earn a dollar for each year I've worked there, she seemed shocked. Luckily, this resulted in receiving a raise. However, so many other preschool teachers aren't as lucky, and work very hard, only to receive a very low wage (not that my new pay rate is high, by any means). It's amazing to me that in this country, people who care for and protect others (daycare/preschool teachers, firefighters, police officers, those who care for the elderly, etc.) earn low wages, while athletes and celebrities are millionaires. What a sad commentary on where our priorities lie.
You are so right. It's incredible to me that we don't have subsidized day care for all children in this country. And it is shameful that pre-school teachers barely make a living wage.
And while we're at it, how about a break for families who decide to have one parent stay home to care for children or elderly. I know that where I live, the wage I make wouldn't cover the cost if my kids had to go to a daycare center. I'd end up working just to pay for the daycare! It's a sad state when both parents have to work full time to make ends meet only to have most of the second income go to pay childcare costs. You'd think things get better once the kids go to school, but then summer comes and your child is too old for daycare so all of your salary goes to pay for day camp. I agree that daycare workers should be paid a fair wage for the valuable service they provide. I'd want the person spending forty hours a week with my child to be the highest qualified person possible. It's a rough situation, to be sure.
Thank you...I am an Early Childhood Educator, trying to start a home day care....I earn $25 a day to care for each child...this has to include everything from breakfast, lunch, and snacks, to milk, juice, and treats....I have to pay for all field trips, all craft supplies, all the toys, bedding, laundry and cleaning supplies, hydro, gas, lawn/playground maintenance, sunscreen, bug spray, extra hats, sunglasses, playpens and cribs, high chairs, etc....I spend all day with these children, teaching them through play....I teach them their alphabet, their numbers, grammer, manners, social skills, how to control themselves emotionally....gross and fine motor skills....I have a small climber in what used to be my livingroom, for rainy days.....my home is filled with toys, kiddie supplies and disinfectant...it is also filled with laughter, smiling little faces, and happy, trusting parents....I do this for the love, but it would surely be wonderful to be able to pay my bills!!!!!
I totally agree! I was the Director of Daycare for 14 years at a local parochial school. I tried to make changes for myself and that of my staff to just get retirement pay for us! I found the mentality of the parents amazing...really. I had parents that just thought that I wanted to stay after the official close of daycare at 6 PM everyday because they had a meeting or worse yet they wanted to stop for a drink! I actually had several parents late one time because they were skiing. One of the same women at the time happened to be the head of the PTA and gave everyone a Christmas bonus and left me and my assistant out! Her logic was that I got gifts from the children, which in the case of the school usually came from the room that we had at the annual Christmas bazaar where nothing was more than $1. When I made a stink about it because I had received one every year until this woman took over, she had the audacity to offer me $20 from her pocketbook. I told her to keep it, as I felt she might need it for gas for her Mercedes (I didn't say that as I am way too gracious for that, but it did go through my mind). The lateness for a lot of the parents was habitual, one year being almost always getting home around 7 PM and my own family suffered in ways because of it, but I kept at it because my children were lucky enough to have always one of us, in this case their father home with them. That was always my logic. Our 3 children were close in age, we couldn't have afforded me to go to work any other way and with 5 mouths to feed, I needed to work!
Over the years, I actually had parents ask me if I *volunteered* to work with their child or worse yet, *why didn't I look for a "real" job, as if working with upwards of 50 children wasn't real enough! I put up with this abuse for 14 years when one parent who got on the PTA decided to make it part of his personal agenda to remove me from my job because I was asking for the school to spread my salary over 12 months (not an increase in pay mind you) so that I (and staff) would receive a check during the 6 to 8 weeks of summer break. When I didn't sign my contract for the following school year, I was told that I would need to reapply for my job. It was then I made the decision to give it up after a lot of heartache. I so loved what I did. Children are just the most precious gift, but what was done to me on a psychological level was enough. I took a job for my faith as a receptionist and haven't looked back. I loved the kids and it really meant something to me to love what I was doing because I felt it was important to care for children, but the respect of parents just isn't there. They would rather buy designer dog food than make sure daycare providers are treated fairly and paid accordingly, not to mention all the *helpful* advice you would get from them.
Just a side note, I was begged to come back by the leadership as I often had to call the church as we are affiliated with them by religion, not to mention that several parents who *did* have respect for the program pulled their children from the school because they knew the job I was doing and liked continuity. The school is not doing the best as good daycare was one of their selling points and staff turnover is very high. God closed a door but opened a window very wide for me and I found out that I have other abilities. At least I am not insulted any longer and I have a lot of respect from the people I work with now.
Daycare workers just deserve SOOOO much better!
Wow, this topic seems to have hit a nerve in more people than just me, which is great!
About 15 years ago I worked in a church daycare, and I worked there for about 5 years. I loved the work, but it was certainly a thankless job. The pay was about minimum wage and there were absolutely no benefits. I too had to leave my four children to go to work, and many days, after having been patient with other people's children all day, I was short with my own kids. Thankfully, I realized that, and just told them that when I got in I needed 15 minutes to myself before I started supper and booksacks and homework.
There were parents that asked why didn't I get a "real" job, and parents who just considered me hired help and saw things as if this was my job, I could deal with the situation, that's why they paid the daycare, so they wouldn't have to deal with the child.
Do people ever look at the inordinately high rate of turnover in daycares? Why is that? Its because there is no thanks for a job well done, no benefits, and the situation becomes a neurotic mess, in many cases. For instance, while I was working at the daycare, there was a lot of gossiping and backbiting always going on. It was a miserable thing to go through. When I went to my next job, I was amazed that things weren't like that.
Oh, sure, there is always something going on at a work place, but not like it was there. And I got to thinking, why? Why was it so much worse there? And the conclusion that I came up with is that the level of confidence and pride in your job needs to be rewarded in some way in order for people to feel motivated to come to work. These ladies weren't happy to be there, they just needed the paycheck. Regardless of how much they loved working with children, they needed to be acknowledged by SOMEONE on SOME level as worth their salt. The lack of that makes for a bickering, unhappy staff. And guess who suffers at that point. Right, the innocent children are being watched by people who are unhappy in their own lives.
Your suggestion about getting behind the powers that be to help the daycare workers is dead-on. I would just also suggest that as parents we honor the daycare worker any chance we get. Treat them with courtesy and respect, and give them presents from time to time. It makes anyone's day more pleasant to be thought of, and daycare workers are no exception.
I live outside of Philadelphia and spent a year working at a daycare while I transitioned my daughter from being without Mommy all day and Mommy used to not having her daughter there all the time (first child). This isn't my area of expertise but I was hired with NO experience to work in the infant room 30 hours a week. I have a MBA and was able to make a whopping $7 a hour without benefits. When I say taking care of 8-12 babies a day is hard work; is an understatement. We did have a ratio though of 1 adult per 4 babies. Every parent acted as though they were paying for private Nanny services. I understand that every child should be treated fairly but if you want that one-to-one attention go pay for it. Daycares are not what you think. When we are getting paid so little and trying so hard to take care of everybody we'd like a little respect. We aren't the "help". We are doing this because we do like children. And yes, the cleaning of all the toys and floors and taking out the trash just lends itself to more work for such a thankless job. Working there really skewed my vision of daycare and I worked very hard to keep my children out of daycare.
Yes, this is true in New Jersey also; my daughter makes much more as a petsitter than others do as degreed child care teachers and providers. Similarly, we pay parking lot attendants more to watch our cars than we do for degreed teachers who do far more than "watch" our children. This is a national disgrace. We say we love our children; if we do we would subsidize child care. Standards are high, as they should be; let's pay the salaries to match.
Being a Christian, I am honored to serve others and especially children and their hard working parents. Still we need to give respect to our hard working teachers/providers.
Thank you Sisters!
I will say, though, that if we were to look anywhere in this country for a model of how things should go, we should look at the U.S. Army daycare system. Didn't know they had one? They do. I believe it is subsidized as well as the parents paying a weekly rate for it, it is regulated, every provider goes through the same training, most providers work out of their homes and there are periodic inspections. The military has a bit more leeway to do something about problem providers than the civilian world does, but the providers getting paid better probably attracts a higher caliber of provider, too.
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