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Economic Insecurity and the Care Provider

Dear Elizabeth,
Several of our parents have pulled children out of child care due to their own financial struggle. Do you have suggestions for providers trying to manage during these tough times?
Sonia Goodman
Elizabeth's Tips
Elizabeth Sanchez
Elizabeth Sanchez
  • Economize whenever possible without jeopardizing program quality
  • Stay in contact with families
  • Explore new income sources
Expert Advice
Jocelyn Tucker
Jocelyn Tucker
Child care program specialist
Provide Developmentally Appropriate Materials
I think one thing that providers can do is to continue to provide developmentally appropriate activities for their children so materials don't get lost or destroyed. For example, continue to provide board books and soft books for 2-year-olds so they don't tear pages. Providing puzzles that are for small hands, versus a 500-piece puzzle where you see the pieces flying in the air. Keep a focus on the activities you're providing and making them so that they meet the needs of the children.

Remember, you donít need to go out and buy expensive toys. Children will play with homemade toys and engage and interact with those for a longer period than some of the store-bought. They may even appreciate what they make more than a purchased toy. Pots and pans under the cabinet can make more noise than any toy drum that you can buy!

Asking Parents for Help
Weíve talked for several years about the importance of the provider-parent relationship. I've heard some providers say, "Oh, parents just get in the way! If I could just take care of the children." But in these times, it becomes very apparent the importance of that relationship. If you have a good relationship with parents, you can ask them for support and assistance.

For instance, maybe you have a parent work day where you invite all the parents over on a Saturday to help create a garden or start a garden in your backyard for the program. It's important to have that relationship year-round instead of just calling on them when you need something, and then not wanting them around any other time.

There also has to be some give and take. I know some providers that do family date night, where once a month they'll keep the children till 10:00 pm and allow the parents to go out and have a break. Providers who do things like that, even in these times, are full to capacity and have waiting lists. Even in the tough economic times, they still have families waiting to get into their program.
Child Care Provider Comments
Stephanie Henry Ball
Stephanie Henry Ball
Mother of two
My son has been in Darleneís care for 8 Ĺ years. A number of kids that once grew up with my son are not there anymore because their parents canít afford it. When you are looking at saving money a free after school program is an attractive option. In terms of safety and knowing that I donít have to worry about my child, I prefer to keep him in Darleneís care. Other parents may not have that option.

I help in any way that Darlene may need. I create stationery, labels and envelopes for her free of charge. If they have a party, I will help out with pizza or chicken or drinks. She knows that I am someone that I can count on. She takes good care of my kids, so it is the least that I can do.
Darlene Patterson
Darlene Patterson
Family child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
When parents donate money, then I'm not having to take money out of my pocket every month or every week. For the weekly Fun Foodraiser , the pizza normally runs us $30, but the parents donate $20 and that helps out a lot. So that's $40 a month saved. That's a big difference. Iím able to take that money and apply it somewhere else in the daycare. I have parents who, if they're out shopping, they'll pick up things and say, "Darlene, I thought about you today, so I brought this for the kids." It really helps a lot.
Beth Collier
Beth Collier
Child care provider for 22 years and mother of three
The economic downturn has really affected my child care center. In fact, Iíve lost the location. That is the biggest one. The owners needed to sell my rent controlled house due to the economy. I am renting a new place, which has doubled my rent payments. It is sad because I am losing some clientele because my fees had to go up. I have a pretty diverse economic group in my child care, low income to very wealthy. The middle class and lower parents are looking to drop the number of days that they will enroll the child next year, which creates a lot of stress for them.
Parent Comments
Virginia Kovner
Virginia Kovner
Grandmother of four
The recession has hurt me in two major ways. My hours at work have been cut. Second, as I look to retirement, it is quite a bit harder than I thought. I thought I would be able to retire with some backup. That money is now gone.

Last year, I paid for my granddaughter's preschool. She went four days. Now, I am still paying for three days, and my daughter is paying for two days. It is hard to make that payment. I may have to have to take her out of preschool for one day a week, and then, I would cover the rest. If that happens, then I would have to help my granddaughter through the transition because it would be sad for her to miss a day of preschool.
Dr. Charles Sophy
Dr. Charles Sophy
Child psychiatrist & father of one
I think helping Virginiaís granddaughter, Clara, emotionally really starts with being honest with her, age-appropriately, but more importantly, making sure Virginia's OK with it, because the child will take the adult's lead. If you have to make changes, you either tell the child the truth and you deal with it together and try to structure their life so that you minimize the changes in other areas. It's all about the child feeling like they have control. Be honest, keep life as stable as possible, and give some control and knowledge.

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Economic Insecurity and the Care Provider
Topic: Child Care Management
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