Thursday, May 22, 2008

When Daycare Goes Really Bad

This (plus some more community-focused stuff at the end) was posted today at Citizen Wausau. Instead of writing out a bloggy type post about the stuff I found out, I figured I'd just copy and paste. You'll forgive me, right?


I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since last September, just before my daughter was born and joined my son in our wild and crazy household. For most of my life, I wanted to be a SAHM. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “A mommy.”

For the first year and a half of my son’s life, I worked, and we sent Ben to daycare. We picked one that had flexible hours, decent rates and came recommended by a friend. We loved the teachers, and our son seemed comfortable there.

When I was expecting our second child, we decided that I would quit my job as a proofreader and stay home with our kids. It would cost nearly 90 percent of my income to have two children in daycare, and that didn’t make sense for our family. But five months before I was scheduled to leave, we had to break up with our daycare.

The policies were changing at the center, and our son would have been negatively affected. There also seemed to be an overlay of total chaos as they transitioned to the new policies, and we weren’t comfortable with the atmosphere. Luckily, we quickly found a home-based daycare that would take our son for the summer until I resigned. We were very happy there, thank goodness.

The crap kept hitting the fan at the old center though, as employee paychecks bounced and parents pulled their kids out left and right. What really startled me was when I heard that near the end of the owner’s tenure there, the children weren’t being fed anymore. They’d go home starving. No notice to the parents that they should bring bag lunches. Nothing.

Some wonderful people we know bought the center and totally turned it around. They insisted that all the teachers be accredited, they cleaned the facility from top to bottom, and they welcomed a new era of loving, responsible childcare.

I was horrified when I heard how bad it had gotten. I don’t understand how something like that could have happened. The majority of families were low income, so maybe they felt they didn’t have a voice or a choice in what was going on. That’s just plain wrong. Even if the state is subsidizing your childcare, you still have a voice.

If I had known what was going on there when it was happening, you can be dang sure I would have stood up for those families and filed the complaints and raised such a ruckus that the situation would have remedied somehow. I hope there are other people like me in the community who wouldn’t have just looked away.