A month ago, James Farrior died in a Queens day care. The day care in Mexico that burned to the ground in June had only a handful of adults minding 142 kids. On July 2, 2009, Daniel Slutsky, age 2, suffocated to death in Pennsylvania when his day care worker forgot about him, leaving him alone in a hot car. Yet we insist that day care is best. We say “it has to be this way because people have to ‘work.’ ”
Dr. Jay Belsky, a child psychologist, has been blacklisted by day care advocates, who want us to believe that baby doesn’t suffer from being all day without mom. Belsky finds that a baby experiences psychological benefits from being held—by its own mother.
The day care industry, (also called “pre-k”, “early pre-k,” or “zero-to-three”), grows everyday past the actual demand. Last year in New York City, vacant day care slots were defunded. The advocates were so upset, you’d think that someone came into day cares and tossed out actual children on their backsides.
Subsidies—taxes—pay much of our collective day care bill. If we can pay public money to a day care–$3,300 to $10,000 a year per child—why can’t our nation take that money and make a child allowance instead that gets paid to the parents, so if mom or dad wants to take care of the baby, they can afford to?
Congress gave an additional $2 billion this year to put 300,000 more kids in subsidized day care. In spite of massive job losses, federal unemployment policy still requires out of work parents to spend their time looking for a job, even though they’ve got child care work for the taking. Mothers on welfare must “work” even though the welfare-to-work bureaucracy has failed to create real jobs with all the block grants earmarked for it (except for taking care of another mother’s child!) No adult is allowed to use the time out of the paid labor market to care for their kids. All this resistance to parents raising their own children comes at the same time that the new administration is urging every American to work for free helping others. Activities such as “mentoring” children and holding orphaned babies in hospital wards are considered admirable work. But apparently it’s only okay to care for or about other children when they aren’t related to you.
In a report by Heidi Hartmann of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, she insists that 1) we need lots more government day care 2) that day care workers should all be college graduates in early education, because the staff needs to be highly trained 3) that the workers should be well paid and 4) (wait for it!) that all day care should be affordable. And the IWPR never asks an important question: Does every mother who does not have day care actually want it?
Taking care of our own kids would also save on health care costs: If more moms watch their own children, it would help the nation achieve an increase in breastfed babies, which the federal Department of Health and Human Services actually recommends to improve overall child health. No one in the day care lobby ever discusses this potential advantage to not using day care. They also don’t mention that most day care staff are moms who’d rather be taking care of their own babies.
Giving cash to the parents instead would also benefit parents who prefer day care. Just being able to afford to remove a child from a bad day care would stimulate market forces: Day cares would have to increase their quality fast, or they would lose business. (No more showing kids Dora DVDs all day) By contrast, all the expensive regulatory bureaucracy that has grown up around day care has been unable to keep children from getting hurt or dying.
The other thing the bureaucracy has been unable to do is stop fraud. In 2008, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that New York City child care providers misspent $1.6 million in state contracts. Also in 2008, providers in California stole $3 million dollars in tax money received to provide child care.
In the papers, we all ask how the “Octomom” will ever properly care for eight babies by herself. Yet our day cares can legally have one adult caring for six infants, and we don’t raise the same questions. Why not?
It does not “take a village” to raise a child. It takes a happy parent or parents who can spend time imparting their values to their own children and be there for teaching moments. Instead, social engineers at all levels of government insist that anyone but us should spend the day with our kids. We are only allowed to keep paying the taxes that perpetuate this system. By contrast, with a child allowance that puts the money in the parents’ hands, we’d save all the billions of dollars that now go not to the child care, but to the massive administrative bureaucracy and paper pushing.