Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Screw affordable childcare

Screw affordable childcare.

Screw affordable childcare and crap made in China that falls apart and all the other ways we are penny wise and pound foolish.

But especially affordable childcare. Childcare should not be affordable. Childcare is priceless to a society. It is the very foundation and framework on which the entire fabric of society rests. The first four years of life predict far too many social cost outcomes to be ignored.

Childcare is critical work. And we value it at Zero.

I commit to take on another human from infancy, raise them as a human resource in the slave-society where access to money is required for participation. I commit to 24-7 life-or-death responsibility for this helpless individual. If that child is mine, it's presumed the value is all mine. But it's certainly not.

Anita works in a child care facility earning $16.50 per hour, no sick time, no benefits. She has a college diploma in early childhood education and 6 months of experience. She is responsible for the social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional, and physiological development of 15 toddlers. And to wipe their noses and change their diapers.

This is what I call Assembly Line resource development. We are building machines for the economy. The economy is asking for expensive machines, but we keep giving them stuff that breaks. Human machines rushed through an assembly-line process of education beginning with wasting valuable development opportunities on babysitting.

The humans break under pressure, the stress in the system. We've leaned it out too far. Like a car engine, when the band tightens and there is no more slack - it breaks. The stress and economic pressure of having to find and keep a good paying full-time job for sustenance and to meet basic life goals has broken the capacity of huge swaths of people.

Adults under stress parent less patiently. Parents with fewer resources parent with less help from outside sources such as clubs, athletics, etc. Parents with no time parent with less information, more on the fly, and with less awareness of what they are teaching in their daily actions.

Children living in stress environments do not grow as well, learn as well, adapt as well or feel as well as children living in low stress environments. They grow up into unhealthy adults under stress.

It means we can't do as much with as many of them. Lots of the human machines lose their capacity to learn the information, skills, etc. that they need to thrive as adults, but more importantly to everyone else, to contribute effectively in the economy. Too many of them can't be used by the private sector and come back to society as "rejects." Unemployed.

Maybe they could have grasped calculus if we'd taught it to them slowly for six years instead of asking them to learn the basics in six months in high school (see here). Maybe they could have become strategic thinkers who solved world problems if they'd been supported, mentored, coached and helped during their formative years. But in reality, only the very bravest, best and most capable will rise above their circumstances to overcome and triumph by being better lubricated machines and critical cogs. There are not enough of them for the future.

It may be worth trying to salvage the current adults. They are probably fully capable machines that just need to be repaired - that is, healed from the stress-inflicted damage on their social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional and physiological development. Maybe the adults can be salvaged for private-sector use at great cost. But it's the small children where we have the most chance to impact.

Which brings us back to Anita and her college diploma, her $16.50/hour, and her her responsibility for the social, cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional, and physiological development of 15 toddlers between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday while their parents work in the economy. Her rent is $700 a month. I wonder how her stress level is?

The work of Care should be valued. It should be trained, it should have standards tied to research, and it should be compensated as professional work. Which means it could never, never be affordable. And it shouldn't be. It should be infrastructure. To build our workforce.

Valuing the work of Care means rethinking everything about how we engage as society, what our goals are. Just the way that building road and wire and plumbing infrastructures required a public commitment, public support and public access, so does the establishment of a private-sector-ready workforce. Caring for small children is not the work of play, though it is playful work. It is critical for everything we want in our society.

Unless we only want shareholder profits this quarter.