Who Will Care for My Children?

Finding childcare for one’s children is near impossible.  We can do better.

Who will care for my children?

When I had my first child, I went back to work to support our family when she was 6 weeks old. Bud was still a medical student and had little income except for what he earned as a Marine Reservist.  Fernanda, who lived across the street, was happy to care for my daughter.  It was a nice arrangement, as I knew and trusted Fernanda.

My son came along 18 months later.  Fernanda was willing to care for both my little treasures.  Just a few months later, Fernanda told me that she was no longer doing childcare.

No one knew anyone taking in infants and toddlers.  There weren’t any licensed care centers nearby.  I wound up looking for a caregiver in the local newspaper want ads, not the most trustworthy source of help. After searching for a few months, I connected with a lovely lady who had a nice home and a small son on a Friday which was Fernanda’s last day.  Whew!

Grandma

Two days later, on Sunday, my “lovely lady” called and said that she decided not to care for kids after all.  Huh?!?  Now what do I do?  I had less than 24 hours to find someone before I had to go to work on Monday.  If I don’t go to work, there would be no income, and we don’t eat.  Fortunately, Bud’s mom who lived 60 miles away, took a few days off from her nursing job to help cover for a few days. By the end of the week, Oma retired from her job to be my kids’ caregiver.  Whew!  Thank you, Oma!

Grandmothers (and grandfathers and aunties and uncles) really do fill the gap.  They have similar family values, they love children, they are flexible, and they never call in sick.

Many moms do not have the option of nearby family.  Working mothers are very common these days, but they still have to find childcare which is not so common.  It is very hard to find childcare, especially for infants and toddlers.

Child Care Deserts

According to OSU’s report, Oregon’s Child Care Deserts (2019), all of Oregon is a childcare desert for children under the age of 3.  For every slot in regulated child care, there are more than three children looking for a place.  In Marion and Polk Counties, only 8% of infant and toddlers have access to a child care slot. Childcare runs about $14,000 per year per child. This is not at all encouraging for moms and dads of young children, and even worse for single parents.

After kids enter school, there are childcare issues for afterschool, summer, and when schools are out.  It’s usually moms who give up for kids. We do love our kids, and all parents sacrifice for them.

COVID and Children

Childcare during COVID times is even more complicated. Many childcare facilities and schools are closed by the Governor’s Executive Orders. Caring for children often defaults to women.  Parents balance working from home, supervising kids, and helping with their children’s distance learning.  What about moms and dads who can’t work from home and need to juggle childcare and teaching kids who are home?  They need help.

Treasure Parents and Children

We need to help out our working parents.  A better working childcare system than what we have now is needed.   The answer is not in a newspaper want ad.  We should incentivize businesses to have in-house childcare facilities for their employees.  Parents who know exactly where their children are, that the kids are nearby, and that the kids are safe are some of the best, loyal, hard-working employees.  When their minds are at ease about their children, they can fully focus on their jobs.  Oregon should offer tax credits to parents to help pay for childcare.   We should develop more childcare facilities with high standards that free up moms and dads to do their best at work.  We need to have more childcare options for our hard-working moms and dads and their children.  They are Oregon’s future.