MSNBC Reported yesterday on the wave of slashes to child care benefits to low income families. As a mother on the lower side of the income scale, this issue is kind of near and dear to my heart. Although I really love staying at home with my kids and teaching them and watching them grow, I can't say it's the only reason I stay home.
It's simply more practical, economically speaking, for me to stay home. Child care in Florida, even just part time is going to run anywhere from $120-$200 per week. That's a minimum of $480 per month, for just ONE child. Multiply that by three and it's obvious that it would make absolutely no sense for me to go to work and pay someone else to watch my children. I mean, really, I would be taking a loss to work- I'd be working to pay for child care and still coming up short.
Florida has this great program called VPK. All four-year-olds in the state get free part-time preschool as long as they meet the birth date cutoff, regardless of income. Great. Wonderful. No really, I think it's awesome, but what do you do the four years leading up to that? Certainly you can't leave your child home alone, and you can't afford child care, so you end up not working and living on public welfare, or leaving your kids with less than trustworthy characters who will take care of them for almost nothing.
So, if you're against public welfare you want people to work and support themselves, right? Well, there has got to be a little bit of give and take in this. Low income families are always going to exist in a capitalist society- let's all just accept this. Not everyone can be upper middle class- and our government is surely not middle-class oriented. So, you don't want to feel like you're handing out something for free, you want people to work. How can we help those who just aren't going to be able to get a higher paying job work to support their families and take care of their children at the same time? Help with childcare. Give subsidies, vouchers, whatever. Trust me, most families do not want to be on food stamps and medicaid any longer than they have to be. People want to work. They want to take care of their family. They want to know when they leave for work their kids will be safe, and maybe even learn something.
"When parents cannot find affordable care, they often leave children with a neighbor or friend even if they don't trust them."
How many times I've turned on the television and seen some show like The Steve Wilkos Show and some mother is bawling her eyes out because someone beat her baby or molested her child and she gets torn to shreds for leaving her child with someone she didn't or shouldn't trust. It's easy to label Moms like these as neglectful or "bad," but you must consider their circumstances. How is a Mom able to make these decisions with limited choices. Do I feed my family this week, pay for the water, or pay for child care?
With budget cuts amid every State's agenda, child care is an avenue that many people will not likely protest- especially taxpayers who don't have children, or can afford to pay for child care, or have children old enough for the public school system. It's a place government can save some money with minimal complainers. But it is my humble opinion that cuts like these are a detriment to our society. It forces people to stop working and rely even more heavily on public assistance. It drives parents to make less than wise decisions about who cares for their children. It perpetuates the poverty that many Americans are feeling even harder during these economic times. All the while people scream, "Pull yourself up from your bootstraps!"
Government is a body by the people for the people, and we should be taking care of the least of our own- not demoralizing them.