STILL?? Isn’t this beating an old topic to death? Day care seems to be the issue that just won’t go away AND it’s really one of the primary concerns for many mothers (and fathers) who wish to maintain part-time or full-time work.
Personally and naively I’d never thought much about it in advance. But once our son was born – it became a necessity. While my husband was there to pick up blocks of time, as the self-designated part-timer, if I was to maintain any sort of science going (at the time I was basically working independent of any one institution, part-time, with colleagues running field and laboratory studies) I needed day-care. And I needed a day-care where I felt comfortable leaving my then six-month old – so that I could concentrate on the day’s work.
Beginning with the industrial-sized Long Island day care – where Sam was consistently sick – to the local family day cares we found once moving to rural Western MA (one of which I not so affectionately referred to as the Militia Day-Care, after finding a large pile of guns-and-ammo boxes set out curbside on recycling day) it quickly became a matter-of-fact that there just weren’t satisfactory options, although there were options we could live with, at least for a while.
While I recognize that for those of us on our own, day-care really is ours to figure out. But, for those working at large institutions, particularly government institutions, it seems that the situation ought to be much better. Unfortunately, and as many readers know, this isn’t the case at all. In some cases its worse (without all the home day-care options, and with tighter working hours.)
Below is an excerpt from a comment left on this blog by Andrea Kalfoglou one of the contributors to Motherhood:
“Adequate daycare is essential. In my chapter in the book, I discuss how stunned I was to find out that there was a 2 year waiting list for children to attend the NIH onsite daycare — and the largest facility wasn’t even onsite, but was 3 miles north in Rockville. There are currently 1100 children on the waiting list. What is NIH’s alternative? A list of local centers that you can visit and evaluate yourself. When I was doing my postdoc at NIH three years ago, that’s exactly what I had to do. All of the centers I visited in the Bethesda area that had openings were substandard. I’m not fussing about a lack of the latest educational toys. They smelled like urine, they had infants trying to sleep in the same room with 10 rowdy 4 yr olds (the daycare provider’s “solution” was to cover the faces of the infants with blankets!) They had broken playground equipment on postage stamp sized yards, and women who all spoke different languages. I’m all for raising bilingual kids, but you have to be able to actually talk to your child’s teacher to find out how his day went. And, it would seem that it would be a difficult work environment if you couldn’t even speak with your coworkers. I eventually found a decent center, not through the referral center at NIH, but through the NIH parent’s list serve — an essential resource for any parent working for NIH.”