The Unsustainable State Of Childcare

David Trammel's picture

I don't have children to care for. And as a bachelor I do not know how people make arrangements to have their children cared for while they work either. I didn't understand just how unsustainable the current situation is. This article is eye opening for someone who does not have children.

"How Child Care Became the Most Broken Business in America: Biden has a plan to make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go out of business first."

Greer has written before about how he feels that families need to get back to living with one member making a employed wage, while the other stays home and handles family issues, child care and manages a home based business. With the levels of money needed to provide child care, I can see why. Even if wages for the working poor continue to rise.

Going into the Long Descent this will get more and more important.

EDITED: Fixed the link.

mountainmoma's picture

People have unreaslistic expections. For example, if you are legaly allowed to watch 4 children under the age of 2 for one adult. That means each of those under 2 children should expect to pay 1/4 of the needed income for that one adult, plus overhead. And, you should expect that someone who can be intrusted with your precious under 2 year old would expect to make around your salary. Basically, it shoudl take 1/4 of your income to pay to have your under 2 year old in childcare. The under 2 year old should be with a cinsistent care giver, which usually means a parent or extended family member or other trusted, stable member of the community. A large government run program will have lots of employee turnover, not good for the young child. Those large, relatively cheap centers also severely group by age, I visited one once where the little 18 month old child was crying as he saw his previous carer walk by, and of course he could not understand why he could not go to her. But, they have under 6 months in one room, then they go to the one year old room, etc.... There is no consistency of care. The last thing these young children need is government subsidized care.

SO, yes, one meber should be at home. OR one member out of 2 households or whatever. But, then that one member out of the 4 adults needs to be compensated in an equivalent manner, to have her efforts aprreciated. Or, the 4 adults can rotate with each of them taking one day a week or what have you. OR maybe they have an extra housing unit on one of the 2 households yard/house that can be used as partial payment for a paid nanny for the 2 families. But, whatever it is, it needs to be individualized like that and the children need constancy of care

mountainmoma's picture

I ran a Waldorf inspired playschool home daycare when my ids were young for many years. The article is correct in how hard it is for a center to break a profit. In a center, the workers are low paid and there are expenses like paying rent, hiring workers, etc.... The pay comes out much better if you work for yourself in your own home, you are paying the same overhead, your mortgage, dont hire any assistants. Using the example price from your article, lets say you have 4 under 2 year olds, including one is your own child. So, you get paid for 3, $6,000/month. There are expenses of course, but they are not that high, and you work longer than 8 hours. In a couple years, you now have 2 children of your own ( one might be an infant still) and 4 children you care for under the age of 5 ( but not an infant, all toddlers or preschoolers). The 4 preschoolers pay 1,500 each so you are still getting 6,000/month gross income. So, why would you want to make $15/hour working in a center is correct. A center most likely cannot charge enough to pay all its bills and pay workers enough because of overhead costs. I do not think the government should subsidize childcare directly though, as that can limit choices both in type of childcare option you can use and having to use child care at all. What it can do, is have a tax credit for having a child under the age of five, then the parents can make a choice to use it to subsidize their childcare bill or use it as part of the family budget so one of the parents can stay home or for some co-op effort.

David Trammel's picture

Agreed, giving tax credits or a subsidy which you can spend based on your own situation is my preferred solution as well. The objection I had with the assistance for renters during the pandemic is the same. If government is going to spend the money, then don't try and assist land lords. Give the renters the money and let them pay the bills they need to, which would certainly include their rent but also cover other essentials.

Too many politicians seemed like they wanted to protect the interests of their monied donors than the people being hurt. As we get more and more problems with less and less resources available I'm afraid they will chose to protect the Elites over all the others.

Good childcare, like good elder care, is expensive, labor-intensive, can be tiring, boring, and messy. Cleaning someone's bottom is never fun.

It's amazing how much we pay athletes and movie stars but then expect top-quality care from overworked minimum-wage women.

I'm infuriated by seeing our elites hire third world nannies to care for their kids while those nannies have someone else back in the old country care for their own kids.

How is that right? How is that good for the kids?

I stayed home with mine and we made the sacrifices and they weren't that huge a set of sacrifices. We managed.

Our culture behaves as though everyone is 25, healthy, and has no dependents.

No wonder we've got so many problems.

lathechuck's picture

Our society pays athletes and other public performers vast amounts of money because their "product/service" can be distributed to a vast audience that each pays a small amount. Traditional teachers can only address two dozen or so students, and day care workers only a handful (so to speak). A doctor may only attend to one patient at a time, but can be scheduled to care for a large population on an intermittent basis (I see my doctor less than once a year, for just a few minutes at a time, so his fee is a small part of my budget). It is not just, but it's understandable. Like a corporate CEO, whose salary is a tiny fraction of every sale, multiplied by millions of sales per year, they aren't "worth" it, but it works out that way.