Child Care: A Modern Dilemma

Someone once said life is just a dream. But, for Sarah Jenkins her world is anything but. The days of wine and roses have long since disappeared. From her first marriage which produced two children but ended abruptly to her second which unlike the first ended tragically Sarah is as the expression goes stuck between a rock and a hard place. With two infants in tow and being a single mother Sarah is faced with the fact that her life has turned upside down.

The reality of Sarah’s predicament is not unique nor is it unusual in today’s society. Single mothers today have become more of the norm compared to a society some 50 years ago. Back then many thought that this nation prided itself as the pinnacle of success in regarding the upbringing of children. It showed because public education at that time the United States was unmatched. This nation had the highest ranking of all the industrial nations in all the major subjects from elementary education on. But, that was back in a period when the norm of society was the two parent family and marriage between a man and women was more sacred than it is today. Times have changed though and today many women like Sarah are faced with many obstacles toward attaining a better quality of life for themselves and their children.

With this past years election brought even more obstacles that not only Sarah has to confront but every single parent across the entire country will be adversely affected if the Republican led Congress has their way. The harsh reality today is that some of the decisions Sarah has made left her with little choice to which direction she took. To work or stay at home, get on government assistance like Food Stamps or live a life of impoverished means all have a very negative impact not only on Sarah but her children as well. Let’s remind everyone Sarah is not alone here either. All across the country women and men are forced to make hard choices when raising their children. When Sarah’s first child was born there were two choices. Either go back to work or stay at home to raise her child. But, with today’s high cost of daycare and a job that really doesn’t pay enough the cost of daycare would strip away whatever wages she earned. Daycare today costs like college tuition have skyrocketed.

With proposed cuts to Plan Parenthood and all the other social service agencies that provide a vital and crucial safety net for millions of women and even men single parents today find themselves in financial and economic distress. Compounding this is the fact that all across the country there are so many communities whose tax base is not sufficient to take care of all the public services that were once well funded. The first one is public education. For the past 25 years tax bases have shrunk leaving public education having to do with less revenue like teachers salaries, supplies and the list goes on. All of this has a dramatic negative impact on the quality of education that the United States is experiencing. This does nothing for the well being of our nations youth who are unwitting victims of governmental policies that continually favor the wealthy.

In the state of Florida and by the way Florida still lags behind every state when it comes raising the minimum wage but the cost of living today is one of the highest in the nation is just one obstacle that working parents have to face. The available jobs in the southern states too many their wages don’t even come close to cover the cost of child care, housing, and generally the cost of living to maintain a lifestyle free from relying on some sort of government assistance. For Sarah even though she earned a degree in education teachers salaries have yet to keep pace with the ever increasing costs of maintaining a comfortable lifestyle. Were not talking about extravagance but a wage where she is able to fulfill the Williams Theory of Economic Evolution is as elusive as ever here and all across the country.

When her first son was born Sarah left the work force to take care of her infant son. Fortunately her husband at the time was also employed. But, by the time her second child was born Sarah had two infants now to take care of but no other support. A divorced mother of two out of work for more that a year with no income to speak of and by the way this is happening too often all across the country tough choices have to be made. But, when governmental policies, those safety nets, are being reduced and eliminated it is always the children who suffer the most.

Many don’t really know the true cost of child care today. Typically, daycare centers will only take infants that are six months or older. For the first six months the mother or father are the sole supporter of that infant. Let’s examine the costs of infant care today. Dippers alone will cost over $75 per week or about $1,000 per year not to mention all the other costs like crib, car seat, clothes, food and the list goes on. Day care itself the cost varies. The younger the child is, say at six months starts at $250 per week while older children that are at pre-school age average at about $200 per week and upwards from there.

If Sarah manages to return to teaching her salary would start at $29,000 per year or around $2,400 per month. Now, factor in day care costs. With two infants at $250 per child per week that equates to $2,000 per month. So right now there is no way Sarah can go back to work in a profession she is trained to do and have her children taken care of while she is performing her trade. See the problem here. There are tens of thousands of mothers and parents who would like to contribute to the overall tax base but with the available jobs that don’t equate to afford the child care that is so necessary for them to contribute to their community leaves them with having to rely on the governmental safety nets that had they been able to go back to work would support others who are unable to find take care of their children.

Now when you have a Republican led Congress and a newly elected President who doesn’t have a clue to what millions of Americans are faced with each day those safety nets that are currently in place will be reduced to a point that millions across the country will be faced with an economic and financial calamity that ultimately will adversely affect to many of our nations youth. It is quite evident that when social services are gutted and the tax base is constantly shrinking communities no longer have the financial means to provide quality education in public schools. Teachers salaries are now most always insufficient, meanwhile programs are always eliminated leaving students with lacking a full educational experience. This all has and is resulting in a decline of our educational standards that were once the gold standard for the world.

We must point out that back in the early 1970’s teacher salaries if one had a Bachelors degree that starting salary was around $26,000. If one had a Masters they could command $37,000. Now, when you compare what teachers were making in the period when the United States had the highest educational standards in the world you see a vast discrepancy. Look at what teachers are making today. The cost of living has more than quadrupled while salaries are almost the same as they were back 45 years ago. That is just part of the problem. The educational experience for our nations youth and for the teachers has deteriorated to the point of what we are seeing today. Many employment opportunities are being unfilled because of the lack of continuing the education standards that were in place some 50 years ago. Consequently when people like Sarah who would much rather contribute to the tax base now is left to be the one of millions like her to have to rely on governmental assistance just so that her children will have some sort of stability in their lives.

A modern day dilemma for sure is the reality of today. And when we have the mentality of today’s Republican mindset in Washington it looks like for people like Sarah those tough choices will be the ones she and others have to make. Avery sad commentary for our nations youth and for the future of the United States.