Child care conundrums
I had a strong feeling of deja vu reading Melissa Schorr’s article about the state of day care (“The Day Care Squeeze,” December 12). Thirty years ago, I was a teacher in a well-regarded day-care center affiliated with Harvard University. Although I had a BS in early childhood education, the pay was low and my job status outside the center was as well. Although we considered ourselves professionals, society did not then – nor does it now. We have made very little progress.
Pamela Wade Collins/Boxborough
I want to let you know that this is hands-down the best article I have ever read summarizing the child-care situation. Thank you for writing it.
In the early 1970s, when I was leading Stride Rite, I recognized that our employees needed child care and opened an on-site center. So I read “The Day Care Squeeze” with interest. It eloquently describes a patchwork system dependent on high costs for parents and low wages for early educators. Yet it accepts a mind-set I long ago rejected as inadequate to meet the needs of children, families, and the economy. High-quality early education and care must become the birthright of our children and our future workforce. As Nobel laureate James Heckman recently warned the federal deficit panel, failing to invest in early education puts “our country’s future in peril by producing a deficit in human capital that will take generations to correct.”
While teaching pediatric residents, I routinely emphasize the research on high-quality early education. There are demonstrated educational, economic, and health benefits for children and society, with a substantial return on investment, in the range of 10 percent to 16 percent. In Massachusetts, 90 percent of children are regularly cared for by someone other than a parent or guardian and 70 percent of preschool-aged children attend a formal program. For too long, the costs have been borne through high fees for parents and low wages for the early childhood workforce. That must change. The Commonwealth and its business community must play a greater role in nurturing the next generation of citizens and workers. It’s not just the right thing to do. It’s a smart investment.
Dr. Gregory Hagan/Cambridge
President, Massachusetts Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics
I started to read your article this morning and stopped after the line “even in 2010, child-care logistics still fall squarely into mom’s lap.” I am a father. I found day care for my own two children. I also now own a day care on the South Shore that my wife and I run. Every year we receive many calls from fathers and mothers as they search for care for their own children. In other households, even in those of your neighbors, child-care logistics do not, in fact, fall squarely into mom’s lap.
Thomas P. Bleakney/Scituate
I get confused and irritated at parents who talk of “sticker shock” for child care when it comes to their precious little ones. Ideally, bringing a child into this world should involve careful planning. It is a monumental choice that involves self-sacrifice. I consider myself to be nonreligious, feminist, and a liberal Democrat who was disappointed when the single-payer option was left out of the health care reform bill. But when it comes to child care, I feel society needs to step back and realize it takes at least one parent or loved one to be a full-time parent for the first four or five years in a child’s life. You can’t have it all, and it’s a shame people buy the idea that you can.
As a parent, pediatrician, and author, I applaud the Globe’s efforts to shed light on the child-care crisis in the United States. There is no such thing as good, cheap child care. Like everything else to do with parenting, the right thing takes effort. Parents should expect to invest time and energy to find the best option. I’d encourage readers to consider family child care, especially those accredited by the state’s office of Early Education and Care.
Dr. Lisa Dobberteen / Cambridge
A second opinion
I really enjoy reading Miss Conduct’s column every week. I just wanted to respond to P.L., who wrote that he or she had a bad cold and was given antibiotics by a doctor and told it was OK to return to work (December 12). Technically, a cold is caused by a virus, not by bacteria. Antibiotics do nothing for a cold except keep you from getting a secondary infection. Returning to work while sneezing will spread the virus. Most people don’t take time off for a cold these days, so while the folks who told the writer to “get away” were quite rude, I think they did have a point.
Cause for hope
Many thanks to Susanne Althoff for “The Past Is Present” (December 12). What a delightful story on an otherwise dark Holocaust chapter. It makes me feel that sometimes one can hope!
Michael Grodin and Michael Kraus are two amazing people. Kraus has lived an extraordinary life, and kudos to Grodin for bringing his story to us, and also to the Globe Magazine. The article should be included in the curriculum for all high school students.
The Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance had an exhibit a few years back on a drawing teacher in the Theresienstadt camp and the children’s art that was saved. Seeing the work made me understand intimately how art and words help children – and adults – deal with crisis. You made a mitzvah today sharing this article!
Diana Rosen/Los Angeles
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