Even in the middle of a crisis time, there is still no care for childcare providers. I have heard countless mentions of nurses, police officers, grocery store clerks, but no one realizes that daycare providers are first responders too.
No care for childcare providers
As soon as the crisis began, the governor of my state and DHS in my state began urging childcare providers such as myself to remain open to serve the community. If a nurse works with patients in the hospital, she can strip down, take a shower, and come into her home, her sanctuary, washed up and ready to rest.
But guess what? Family child care providers live in their workspace. So not only are our homes exposed to whatever the families we serve bring in, so are our families. Not only that, but our customers also cough and sneeze right in our faces. If they are sick, we get it.
I know that we chose this profession and we do it for love, not money. But childcare providers and the most grossly underpaid laborers in the country. There is a shortage of childcare because the money is so low to actually do it.
There haven’t even been good guidelines for safety put out, so I did a bunch of research and combined that with common sense in this article.
Childcare is expensive, I hear people say it all the time, even my parents say it. They’re right, it is expensive, but it’s also expensive to DO it. Last year I made $8108 profit for the entire year. That means after I bought everything needed to do childcare in my home, I had barely over $8000 left to live on, pay my bills, go on vacation, whatever I choose to spend my money on.
I have 24 years’ experience running my own business. I have a great reputation. I have plenty of clients and referrals, but I still make far less than minimum wage. I also work at least 55-65 hours a week in childcare. Still for that amount of money.
It’s a dire situation, but I feel called to do it. I love my families; I love my kids. I love what I do. But my profit margin is so small, if I am down one kid or if I didn’t get my food reimbursement check from the food program, I would make no profit at all.
Did you know that one out of every five childcare workers is uninsured? So while we are asking childcare providers to work on the front lines during this crisis, if they get sick, they may not be able to afford healthcare.
Childcare providers are first responders too
So, you can imagine in a time like this, the stress is high. Did you know that home daycare providers are self-employed so they don’t qualify for unemployment? If all of my parents lost their jobs in this crisis, I would not be eligible.
The federal government issued an emergency exception for self-employed people but family child care providers don’t qualify still unless we contract the virus or our family does. There are so many situations where we may lose income that wouldn’t’ be covered. If one of my kids contracts the virus, and I have to close down so everyone can self-quarantine, I am not covered.
Lost wages for childcare providers
I have already lost one child that was enrolled and normally, I would conduct interviews and replace her to keep my income coming in, but I’m not allowed to let parents in my house right now because of the crisis. Even parents of my currently enrolled children have to pick up and drop off outside right now, and I hate it.
But what parent will enroll their child with a stranger in their daycare and not see what it looks like in the facility? None that I know of. So, I cannot work on filling the spot until this crisis is over. And is now the time to be adding more people to the mix here? It doesn’t feel like it. I’m in danger of losing more kids at any time as well. It’s stressful.
If we can’t find the right components for the kid’s meals, we will be denied reimbursement by the food program, and with some kids being absent during this time, our food checks will be far lower. Mine will be around half of what it usually is, even though I bought the food to feed the kids.
Insight into what daycare providers are facing
But let me tell you what the most stressful part is. There is no support coming from anywhere for childcare providers. It’s like we are just forgotten.
When my governor asked all businesses to close down for 21 days unless they were essential, he mentioned all kinds of people whose efforts he was grateful for, but childcare was never mentioned, even though he asked us to remain open to provide services earlier in the crisis.
He knows first responders cannot keep working if daycare doesn’t keep working, but we are not important enough to mention and thank. And this isn’t anything new to childcare workers. We are always essential and always undervalued. It stinks and it makes it hard to keep on keeping on. We are essential, not expendable. We are real people.
Childcare providers have been abandoned during crisis
Everyone went into panic buying mode when this started and I couldn’t even get toilet paper for the kids. DHS is asking us to remain open, but the supplies we need aren’t available. And what happens when all of my reserves are gone?
I have tons of meat and fruits and vegetables in cans or the freezer, but it won’t last forever. My big can of oatmeal won’t last forever.
I only have one bottle of disinfectant left and I’m using it FAST! I am also allergic to scents and bleach and there are every few disinfectants I can use, so that makes a difficult situation even harder to navigate. So, I have that concern. What do I do if I run out?
I feel if the government wants us on the front lines, just like everyone else they have up there, they should be helping us get the needed supplies to do the job they’re asking us to do. Supplies to lessen exposure and help keep us safe. I see people working tirelessly to help truckers and medical staff by volunteering and donating, but I see nothing about daycare.
When I needed toilet paper, one of my daycare parents brought a pack and a few people left some on the porch. It was such a blessing and many others asked if I wanted some of theirs. I was so grateful and we have enough for several weeks.
But I had to beg on Facebook for anyone to know I needed it. Thank goodness I could and people responded. I just think there needs to be resources for people on the front lines.
Daycare, for the most part, is a hated profession. This is my 25th year as a family childcare provider. I am qualified, I am experienced, I am certified, I am licensed, but when people ask me what I do and I say I have a home daycare, it’s always the same, oh… and a long silence. NO ONE thinks it has value.
But guess what? It is! Early childhood years are by far the most important time in a child’s life. Where they spend their time is of utmost importance!
My daycare parents are more than appreciative, but I have not always had people that did appreciate the efforts I put into caring for their kids. I feel like my people now really see value in what I do, but outside of them, I see people’s comments about I would NEVER put my kids in daycare and etc.
The daycare world is like the stepchild of the working society. And the governor just reiterated it in his latest speech. It hurt. But it’s always the same. Later that evening I got an email from DHS telling me we still needed to stay open and we were essential but no mention of appreciation for how scary it is for us to do so right now.
Daycare providers are superheroes
I think there needs to be respect for everyone who is doing their part, not just some of us. I think there needs to be respect for what a wonderful job I am some of my fellow providers do in taking care of people’s children like they were our own without question in a time of crisis.
I’m glad I can do it, but I’m also scared that my husband will get sick because he has severe respiratory issues already.
Consider also, if you are off work, try as hard as you can to pay your provider. She doesn’t have anything to fall back on right now. I understand if you’re not making money that you can’t pay her, but if you are getting paid leave, PLEASE help her support her family.
Early childhood teacher appreciation
Many providers are single parents or in some other way the only provider for their family. Many providers live on the edge financially because the job pays so little. Many providers are barely hanging on from all the stress.
We’d like to hear that someone appreciates what we are putting ourselves through. We’d like to hear that what we do matters to someone besides us. We’d like to be included at the very least in the essential workers that are important enough to mention at the very least.
When you do return to work, the most important thing you’ll need is a provider loving your child so you don’t have to worry all day is they are okay. Make sure she can still be there by doing everything you can to help her now is the only way that can happen.
I know she loves children and cares about you or she wouldn’t be providing care for a living. She may not be good at promoting herself, so you might not even realize how truly amazing she is. But I know that most of the providers I work alongside in this town really really love their children and care a whole awful lot about the job they are doing.
Most of the time when you see some person on the news that has 20 kids stuffed in their basement or the lady that was at the tanning salon while the kids were sleeping are unlicensed, uncertified providers. But everyone thinks so little of the profession, they lump us all together.
Of course, there are a few bad providers, just like there are a few bad doctors or a few bad grocery store clerks. But don’t lump us all in one category. Most of us are running professional businesses and care about what we are doing.
A licensed plumber and uncle bob with a pipe wrench who thinks he might know how to fix it are two different things. And an educated family child care provider and a “babysitter” are also two different things. Please remember that when you are making assumptions about what you think you know.
Childcare is always overlooked
Childcare is always overlooked when talking about funding, support, or appreciation. But we are the backbone of the working world and we deserve to be recognized for giving our all. Not to be criticized and always put down. Please take some time to appreciate us keeping America (and many other countries) working!
If you are a daycare provider and you don’t know what to do in this uncertain time, check out this advice for daycare providers during times of crisis. I hope it can help ease your mind and make a plan of what to do.
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