Tag Archives: childcare

Whose career suffers when childcare emergencies arise? Usually the mother

 

 

Last week, I sat in an office waiting to be called in for an annual parent teacher conference and checking my watch. My son is doing well in school so the conference was called purely for administrators to check off boxes. The longer I sat, the more anxious I felt about the work I should be finishing and the deadlines approaching.

I pictured my husband in his office, being productive, and I stewed.

Over our years of raising children, as child care needs have cropped up, my husband and I have negotiated who would handle them. The negotiations often turn into arguments over who has more on their plate, more flexibility at work, and inevitably, whose salary is more critical to our household income.

More often, the negotiations (arguments) end when I agree to “take one for the team.” Some days, I resent it.

My working mother friends in households with two employed parents tell me they, too, struggle with sharing family responsibilities 50-50. A teacher friend told me she has used up her allotted days off staying home with her sick son who has been battling bronchitis off and on almost the entire school year. Her husband claims his boss will dock him pay if he misses a day of work. She’s worried she is about to lose her position as grade leader. Being there for a child and living up to the demands of bosses and clients is no easy feat for a mom or dad. Although men are taking on more childcare responsibility, women still “take one for the team” more often.

Lately, I’ve been surprised at how much this inequality bothers men in supervisory roles.  A male friend who manages a radio station recently complained about a mother on his staff who has had to leave early several times in the last few weeks to handle childcare emergencies. “Why doesn’t her husband take a turn?” he asked me. “Yeah, why doesn’t he?” I responded, wondering if this situation would make my friend any more likely to pitch in with childcare emergencies in his household.

Unfortunately, when mothers take time off to handle childcare needs too frequently, they are viewed as uncommitted to their jobs or not serious about their careers. It is the reason more mothers are looking carefully at flexibility in our workplaces and resources our employers provide such as paid sick leave.

So, I’m wonder what your thoughts are on taking one for the team. Is this something you argue about with your significant other? How do you think who handles childcare needs should be decided? Do you take one for the team more often than your spouse and end up resenting it?

Where to find flexible childcare

When my children were younger, I worked four days a week and had Fridays off. It was not easy to find childcare for four days. But times have changed and daycare appears to be getting a little more flexible. I'm not saying it's completely flexible, but we're moving in the right direction. 

In my column in today's Miami Herald, I address the new direction of child care. Below is an abbreviated version but you can click here to see the full article. 

 

BYH00 Balance News rk
(Pamela Guilarte, left, and her mother, Maria Sayreat the Fun Club in South Miami. Photo by 
Roberto Koltun) 

 

 

 

 

From nannies on demand to daycare or after-school care on demand, alternatives to full-time childcare are providing parents options to fit their new ways of working.

Drop in care: One of the most-popular options is drop-in care, where childcare is available by reservation, or at the last minute as a service offered by full-time day care and early-learning centers. Parents can pre-buy preschool hours and use them as needed. Costs vary but start at about $ 10 an hour, plus a one-time registration fee.

Earlier this month, Suzanne Santos, a mother of three, found herself using this alternative. Santos, a real estate agent in South Miami, had a photo shoot set up for one of her new property listings and needed childcare for her 2-year-old daughter for the afternoon when the nanny called in sick. So, Santos bought a package of drop-in childcare hours at The Fun Club in South Miami that she will use as needed over the next month.

Pamela Guilarte began drop-in care as the owner of Fun Club in South Miami and just sold the preschool to Orange Blossom Learning Center. Now, she plans to license the format she used locally to preschools around the country. She and her mother, Maria Sayre, have developed software that allows parents to log onto a website, purchase a package of hours and sign up for preschool/childcare as needed, or several days a week. Preschool owners are able to use the software to track parent usage and send out renewal notices.

Guilarte says drop-in care has gained traction in the past few years, particularly with young parents. “Millennial parents are savvy and because of the way they are working, they don’t want to pay a monthly fee,” she says. “They are hand-selecting the top preschools in their area where they can pay by the hour or the day.”

While it would seem challenging for owners to staff for drop-in care, Guilarte says it serves as supplemental income for childcare centers that already offer full-time care. Parents still need to ensure that a drop-in center is licensed and operates under the same regulations that apply to day-care facilities. “When I opened the Fun Club seven years ago, if I said we offer drop-in care, people had no idea what that was. Now, people know what it is and have started to use it,” she says.

Drop-in childcare has a sizable potential market: People working nontraditional shifts or flexible hours make up 35 percent of the workforce.

While convenient, most drop-in care centers want some prior notice. Tiniciti Early Childhood Center requires 24 hours notice for drop-in care at its two Miami locations. It also offers parents flexibility in how they use day care during regular hours. Michael Taylor, who operates his iPrint company from Pipeline Brickell’s shared workspace, works a loose schedule and typically starts his workday around 11 a.m. after he drops his daughter Ella off at Tiniciti Brickell. Because the center offers alternatives to full-time care, Taylor uses it mostly in the afternoons but has the option of picking Ella up as late as 8 p.m. if needed. “There are so many young business people on Brickell that certain schools have no choice but to offer flexibility and adjust with times,” Taylor says.

Existing daycare centers: Even the large national providers are catering to parents’ working habits. KinderCare Learning Centers has 1,600 locations across the country, including some on-site corporate centers. At some locations, it has extended hours, offered drop-in care or catered to parents with unpredictable schedules. In South Florida, KinderCare and its Cambridge Preschools has 22 locations, some that offer a daily rate or a monthly half-day fee, says Yvonne Wolliston, KinderCare regional director for the South. “We’re sensitive to moms who want flexibility and are working with them,” Wolliston says.

Family childcare centers: Some family childcare centers have adapted, too. Maricarmen Macias has operated a childcare center from her Chicago home for more than a decade. By welcoming children as early as 5 a.m. and as late as 11 p.m., she has attracted parents who put in nontraditional hours, some of them single mothers. For example, Macias says she accommodates a single mother who works a different schedule each week at a dollar store: “By being flexible, we are giving a mom the chance to have a job and be the main provider for her family.”

Websites: Another flexible option parents are using are websites like Care.com that offer a version of childcare on demand and nanny-sharing. Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor at Care.com, says parents use her website to build a bank of babysitters to hire as needed. “If you have five quality babysitters in your contacts, you can say, ‘I am picking up a gig this week and need someone for 20 hours, who can help me?’ ” Bugbee says.

Afterschool programs: For parents with older children, after-school programs also are evolving to accommodate a change in the communities’ needs. Jodi Grant, executive director of Afterschool Alliance — a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit advocacy organization to ensure quality after-school programs — says she has seen more alternative programs for parents who don’t need five-days-a-week after-care for their elementary, middle or high school children. From enrichment activities to onsite after-school care, “the need for flexibility is great and the programs are getting better.” Check your local YMCA or Community Centers for flexible after-school programs. 

 

What are your experiences with childcare and flexibility? Do you find it challenging to find child care to fit your needs?

The Work/Life Balancing Act

The surprising life of a childcare worker

The cost of caring for a child in America keeps rising, but childcare workers' salaries are not. What's it like to take care of someone else's kid all day while you are being paid subpar wages for your work?

I don't usually post pieces that are political, but this is a topic that affects all of us who care about the next generation of children and the people who care for them while their parents hold jobs. Today, I'm thrilled to have a guest blogger/childcare worker give us some insight into what it's like for her. Her name is LiAnne Flakes, she is 40 and has been working in child care for 22 years. She currently works at the Bible Base Fellowship Childcare Center in Tampa and makes $ 10.75 an hour.

 

LiAnne Flakes

(LiAnne at an event outside the U.S. Capitol)

Here is LiAnne's story:

After working in child care for 22 years, I’ve seen firsthand how our broken child care system is holding our communities and our families back. Working parents can’t afford quality care, and child care workers can’t cover rent, groceries and basic bills for our families.

Each day, I care for and teach eight children between 10 months and 3-years-old, making sure that they eat healthy, learn to socialize and play and learn new words and songs. But I’m paid just $ 10.75 an hour to take care of our country’s most precious resource – our children. That means I can’t afford a car and health insurance.

Most child care workers are among the lowest paid workers in cities around the country. To be able to go to the grocery store is a luxury for me. Right now, my fridge is pretty empty – the last time I was able to buy groceries was about a month ago. 

Sadly, though, many parents are in the same situation, as far as not getting paid enough to afford rent, food and healthcare and relying on public assistance to survive. We’re in a system that’s not working for anyone – parents, children or child care workers. 

That’s why I joined the Fight for $ 15, and am joining with parents and our political leaders to call for a stronger child care system a $ 15 an hour wage for all child care workers.

Outside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, I stood with parents, workers and members of Congress to announce a bold plan for a stable, reliable child care system and a stronger workforce that has the pay, training and support we need to provide the best care possible. Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici said at the event, “Families need a reliable and affordable child care system that’s available when they need it. And importantly, the care should be provided by skilled child care workers who are paid enough to support their families,”

In DC this week, I met child care workers, parents and families who are also struggling to juggle bills and make sure their kids are happy and safe when they are at work. She’tara Brown, a mother of three who works at the Dollar Tree in Tampa, and is paid $ 8.05 an hour told me that affordable care would change her life. Right now, her mom takes care of her 6-year-old and 3-year-old daughters and her 4-year-old son because she can’t afford center-based care. She told me, “I work so hard. But with what I’m making, I can’t support my kids. My check is $ 170 every two weeks. After lights, rent and necessities for my kids – like school supplies – I have nothing.”

I want to have children someday, but sometimes I think it’s a blessing that I don’t have any right now. It’s one thing if I go hungry, but an entirely different matter if a child doesn’t have enough to eat. The fact is too many families are working hard each day but can’t pay the bills like me and She’tara.  

Starting next week, child care providers, parents and members of Congress will be holding roundtables and town halls to discuss  policies that strengthen the childcare workforce and invest in affordable quality care. In the Fight for $ 15 we have already been taking our recommendations to elected leaders. In May, parents and child care workers met with Hillary Clinton to talk about what we need to provide the best care without living in poverty.

It hurts our entire community when hard-working parents can’t make ends meet and child care workers live in constant stress and anxiety about where to get their next meal. It’s time we had a child care system that supported all families and working parents – those who provide and those who need child care.

 

 

The Work/Life Balancing Act