Last week NPR ran an interview with Jonathan Cohn, the author of “The Hell of American Daycare” just published in the current issue of The New Republic. As someone who has been working in the field 30 years, I sadly agree with many of his points about dismal state of child care in our country. In fact, according to the National Institute of Child Health Development ‘s 2007 survey, most of US childcare is “fair” or “poor” while only 10 percent rated high-quality!
Unfortunately, in my experience these percentages ring true. I agree with the licensor quoted in the article, and would not put my own children in the majority of child care programs in Whatcom County! This is not to say that there aren’t hundreds of wonderful dedicated caregivers here- but there are also places where I literally cry in my car after visiting because I am so heartsick. These children are usually from high-risk and/or low-income home who need and benefit most from high quality child care!
The reasons for the “hell of American day care” are myriad—ranging from a lack of governmental family supports (we one of the only industrialized countries without maternity/paternity leave) or a comprehensive system for licensing and safety, to the high cost of child care for families while most child care providers are paid less than parking lot attendants! This means high turnover and drives many talented providers out of the field. This is so frustrating for those of us trying to improve quality—it means that caregivers I just trained are long gone and the situation unimproved…
These findings should scare us deeply! Brain development research has found that the very architecture of the brain is formed in the first years. Children without supportive and appropriate care are at higher risk for problems with impulse control, school, work, and physical and mental health.
From Harvard University’s Center for the Developing Child http://developingchild.harvard.edu/topics/science_of_early_childhood/
There is a bit of hope for the future since the importance of early learning s finally being recognized—even by President Obama and economists like, James Heckman, to calculate that quality child care is “…not only a worthwhile investment, but also an essential one….(since) every dollar that society invests yields between $7 and $12 in benefits. When children grow up to become productive members of the workforce, they feed more money into the economy…(and) also cost the state less…(for) expenses that have been linked to inadequate nurturing in the earliest years of life. “
Read the entire article: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112892/hell-american-day-care or the NPR interview: http://www.npr.org/2013/04/23/178601471/is-american-daycare-a-disaster