There’s No Care for Childcare Providers
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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, and grocery store clerks, but no one realizes that daycare providers are first responders too. This is usual in the life of someone who is running a home daycare. Daycare is always left out of everything because no one realizes the real importance of quality care.
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.
Childcare providers are first responders too
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here is more updated info on the small business loans and unemployment. And ideas of how to reach out and help others during this time.
Good morning Christina.
Thank you for your thoughts on our current situation.
I have been a provider for 31 years. Currently I am closed. I decided to close on the 16th of March after much thought and conversation with two of the clients.
My decision for closing was because my daughter just had twin boys in February and also has a two year old. If I remained open, I would not have been able to help her at all for fear of bringing the virus into her home. She needs all the help she can get. To me, my family is first priority. All but one of my families are working from home. The only one that has to work is a doctor working in a NY hospital. Thus my decision to close. Thankfully her mom has stepped up and is staying at their home Monday through Friday to help care for her grandchildren.
Thankfully I do not rely on just my income to pay the bills. However, my income is what keeps my business going. This is how I provide all the activities and learning that goes on here for 10/12 hours a day.
I am still very busy with the children every day. We meet every morning on our zoom conferences. I deliver packets, games and items they will need to use just as if the children were here.
I know my parents and children appreciate and look forward to our time together.
Today I will be meeting for a live question and answer session on Facebook with ACNJ (Birth to 3) covering the federal stimulus package, unemployment benefits, and small business loans. Perhaps you could log in to listen. Maybe they will have good news for us. My son-in-law says I should be able to apply for small business loan. So we’ll see.
There is also a follow-up Facebook live Q&A with additional information on small business loans on Monday, April 6th. Time to be determined. All Facebook live webinars will be recorded and made available.
Hopefully something will help us get back on our feet.
I am on NJ.
When this is over, I believe all of my families will return.
I pray for everyone everywhere. This is a very difficult time for all.
Stay well and stay safe. God bless.
It is definitely a scary time for a lot of people. Thanks for stopping by and reading and thanks for your thoughtful comments.
You couldn’t put it in a better words to explain who we are and what we about thank you
I’m so glad it can help. Thank you for reading.
i borrowed this…thank you for putting words to our concerns
I’m so glad if there is any way it can help anyone!
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been a child care provider for 21 years here in Arkansas. I have loved every moment of it but it is hard when you don’t feel appreciated. Thank you is hardly ever said and we love and take care of the most important thing to them. I have never understood that. I’m in this for all the children. I pray one day everyone will realize the importance of what we do. Everyone stay safe ❤
Thank you for your comment and for reading. I feel the same way. I’m praying you stay safe too. And thank you for what you do. I appreciate it so much!
Well said!!! I work for a corporation and they don’t seem to care about us. They keep doing lay offs( good for the girls who will get it). They don’t seem to think to ask us how we feel. It’s sad no matter how you look at it. I see a lot of companies that are giving their employee’s hazardous pay but what about us? We are on the front lines also. If it wasn’t for us those front liners wouldn’t be able to work. We deserve a thank you. We miss our kids and families that are not able to be in the centers right now.
I will be thinking of you in this time of need.
I’ll be thinking of you too. We are going to get through this. I’m sorry you are suffering too. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comment.
Thank you so much for putting all of this into words. You explained all of what we’re feeling clearly and professionally. Like you, I feel that I have wonderful families, but that’s not always the case. Our inspector and food program are very supportive of us, but there’s only so much they can provide.
Right now I can’t fathom doing this for as long as you have. I only have 10 years in. I do admire all the women that have stuck with it as long as you have. Again, thank you so much!!
Thank you so much for your kind comments. Know that I appreciate your sacrifice so much and I’m rooting for you!
Well-put Christina! I was a family child care provider for 20 years, and now work with providers in our QRIS system. One thing that I don’t understand, and it always seems to be expected, is that providers do their job for LOVE, not money. When I taught business classes to providers, I’d always ask, “Why do you do this job?” People would answer (partly, I think, because they thought it was expected), “For the love, for the hugs..” and they would be shocked when I’d say, “I do it for the pay!” My point was, we ALL work for pay! Our job (hopefully) matches our skill set and our interests, but we all need to be paid. No one thinks less of businesses who show a record profit each year, or athletes who sign for a big contract, but providers are supposed to work for a pittance. School teachers sometimes also receive this criticism and it’s baffling! Someone I work with put this an interesting way: our Founding Fathers decreed that our nation needed “public school” and they came up with the K-12 system. Now that research is showing how brains develop, perhaps 0-5 learning will eventually become as well-thought of and necessary as K-12!
Keep up your good work in supporting providers…
Thank you for these thoughts. So good. And thanks for reading and your support.
Thank you for writing.
Thank you for reading it!
Awesome article and very much true. I stayed open and I get no thank you’s except from one parent and she just started with me right before this happened.
It’s rough when you feel all alone. But I appreciate what you are doing more than you can imagine. Hang in there. This stressful time will be over eventually. Thank you for reading and for your comment.
What an excellent article!! I have been a passionate ec person for 30 years and agree…we have never been understood or appreciated. I’m currently a faith-based center director in Texas. I’m hoping we aren’t forced to close, but it’s looking like it more every day! Prayers and blessings to you! Thanks for speaking out!!
I’m praying you’re not closed. Thank you for reading and for your comments. It’s wonderful to be encouraged.
Very well said. I live in Cicero if u need anything please let me know .I have e been in daycare for 19 years and only have 1 child left everyone else is home.
It’s a tough situation, but temporary. We will get through it if we support each other. Thank you so much!
Absolutely amazing!!! The Stress is almost To Much !!! Noone understand it like a fellow Provider!!!!
It really is, I’ve been on the edge for weeks and after last night’s new announcement that heroes need to be protected from childcare…well, it’s just stressful. Thank you for reading and commenting.
Thank you, thank you Christina! From one in-home daycare provider to another… This is amazing!!! I am an in-home infant daycare provider who closed last week without pay to keep my husband and myself safe! I wish people would recognize all the hard work that goes into caring for these young people and help us out ????
They should, but for some reason, we always seem expendable. I’m praying for you during this time without income. We will find a way to make it through! Thank you for your comments.
I have said for a while…we are not being considered “essential”, we are being considered “expendable”.
So true. And it’s such a shame. Thank you for your comment!
Thank you for reading!
I agree! Thank you from this home of a experienced provider still watching several essential workers children! My husband has respiratory issues and diabetes as well, so I can relate to how uncertain these times are! I do have parents that have stepped up, paid and been very supportive and thankful! I am one of the Blessed few, and I pray for every childcare provider that has closed, lost families, and gotten sick. We stay united with you, and we will come out on the other side strong together!
Yes we will. Thank you for your comment and for reading! We will get through this.
This is exactly what I have been feeling and very well said
I’m glad I can help make you feel like you are not alone. We will get through this together.
I have thought more than once about how much more stressful all of this would be if I were still providing childcare in my home. Hang in there, Christina! You are helping so many parents and children right now.
It really is hard! Thank you for your kindness. We will get through it.
Yes yes yes ????????????????????????
Thank you !!!!!!!
From one inhome provider to another ????????
You are so welcome. We have to stick together!