A break up is never easy. It’s even weirder when you and your wife have to break up with your kid’s child care provider. Although not a typical break up, it’s still an unenviable position to be in.
My wife and I struggled to find a child care setting for our oldest daughter that fit our family’s needs. After sending her to some less than ideal providers, we finally found a high-quality provider that she attended for more than a year. It had classrooms for different age groups, engaging daily story time to develop literacy skills, art activities for her fine motor skill development and unstructured outdoor play for healthy physical and cognitive development. The price was manageable for us, which is a very real factor to consider when deciding where my daughter was going to spend most of her waking hours. It was a place where I saw my oldest daughter learn, make friends and overall, thrive.
Sadly, for my youngest daughter, a one-year-old, the provider was off limits because they only took children who were over 18 months. That left my wife and I stuck without care for one of our girls.
We searched for a child care option that was comparable to the program my other daughter attended. We visited a lot of places! After more tours and questions than I can remember, we finally found a lovely woman who provided child care in her home to a handful of children. The children all were happy and the woman loved my daughter like she was her own. She would buy my daughter small gifts, gave her a cute nickname, wiped her tears (and her snot) and made sure she felt loved. It was all you could ask for when my wife and I had to go to work and couldn’t be there to dote on my daughter. It also meant that we could finally stop our search.
For many parents, this might be where the story ends. You found a child care provider that fits your schedule and your checkbook and you stick with them until it’s time to enroll your kid in kindergarten. However, as the Federal Government Relations Director at Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), I am surrounded daily by the evidence and research that shows just how important high-quality child care is for a child’s development. I know my daughter has learned shapes, colors, songs and she can count to 10, thanks to her day care, but she also has children twice her age running around looking for age-appropriate interaction that do not focus on her needs.
After much thought, we decided it would be best to move my daughter to a different child care center in the New Year that would provide more developmentally appropriate and stimulating care, so that she could receive the learning opportunities she deserves. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about the family child care provider, who is doing her best to provide a safe and loving home while my wife and I work. It does mean, however, that my wife and I have to pay for higher-quality care.
It was hard to break-up with my daughter’s child care provider. She has watched my daughter grow for the past year and a half. She has fed her lunch and snacks, taken her to the playground, celebrated all the holidays, and been endlessly entertained by my daughter (parent disclaimer: my youngest daughter is the funniest child I have ever met…and the most stubborn). When I told the child care provider that we were going somewhere else in the new year, she cried. As much as it hurt me to see this woman upset, I know that this is the best thing I can do for my daughter to ensure that she learns, grows, and has the best possible opportunities to succeed.
We were fortunate to have the ability and opportunity to find alternative care for our child. For many parents in the U.S., however, this isn’t a viable option. We must urge our members of Congress to help make quality child care more affordable and available to working families. After all, every child deserves the care and attention that our children now receive through quality care.