This is one of the sadder stories I think I will read. It is sad because I understand the desperation of the parents of the dead toddler.
While at unlicensed daycare, a toddler is forgotten, strapped in a car seat, left to die of heat stroke. The caregiver alleged the toddler died while napping and is now facing charges for obstruction of justice and criminal negligence.
At the time of this toddler’s death, 35 children were in the care of the unlicensed caregiver.
Parents are expected to care for their children. There is no argument there. But in securing safety for their children, the mind of the parent looking for daycare is a desperate one. To give an idea of daycare wait times as of 5 years ago when looking for childcare at UBC: Megan and I waited for daycare since February 2012 when we learned of the pregnancy. We updated our request to two spots in in April 2012 when we learned we were having twins. We did not secure two full time spots for our boys till August 2016.
We waited. We waited till our parental leaves expired. And we used the resources available to us to hire a nanny. Both nannies were named Zoe and both showed our twins the love and care any parent would want for their children. We were lucky. Our luck for finding safe care for our children came at a tremendous financial cost. After childcare expenses and rent we kept a few hundred dollars for other necessities. We were able to do this for a few strokes of luck. Neither of us accrued debt as students. We had an above median household income. Just starting my postdoc, Megan was making considerably more money than I – together we would get by.
Our boys are in daycare at UBC. We believe that everyday they will be safe. Everyday I will pick them up – they will have new stories of races lost and won, pretend robot wars and arts and crafts. If I was so unfortunate as to not have safe and reliable childcare I would be desperate. I would seek unlicensed options. The death of this toddler is not a matter where the parents ‘should have known better’ could have done differently.
Exploring the two main choices I assume that these parents, like my partner and I, do not have family living in the province where they reside. My choices would be as follows: Forgo one income and career to care for the children. Maintain two incomes and two careers and forgo some income.
With the first option I lose my income and career experience to raise my children. My household has less resources. My children do not get the rich experience of interacting with multiple children everyday.
With the second option I lose only some of my income (or most as this proportion is dependent on total compensation). Despite losing income my career moves forward – I gain experience with time. I develop no gap in my resume. My children get to interact with other children daily. The downside is that my children are in unlicensed daycare. Provincial standards of health and safety are not necessarily enforced. There is more risk for my children than the regular scrapes, bruises and occasional sprains and broken bones. The unlicensed childcare maybe understaffed or overcrowded. The doors and windows may not be to best standards – children may leave the facility without the notice of the caregivers.
A parent is to balance risk with survival. Some calculated risk today in order to live better in the future. When stated that way, it isn’t at all irrational.
Today is April 8th 2017. My children will start school in September 2017. If we value the safety and care of vulnerable persons in our society – the racially, religiously, sexually marginalized persons, we should care for children’s proper care. I will care about this issue after I no longer pay daycare fees. It’s a social imperative that we take care of vulnerable persons. We make provisions in our society to maintain safety, legal protections, and health care. I’ll believe in childcare after my children are in full time schooling because it is consistent with Canadian social norms.