Monday, December 19, 2005

My Two Cents on the Child Care Issue

We here in Canada are in the middle of an election right now and one of the issues on the table is a proposal for a National Child Care Program. The former government, the Liberals, were planning to create a national subsidized Day Care program. Now that they are electioneering they are calling it and "Early Learning and Child Care Program". They are saying that they would like all Canadians to have access to the best quality care for their children.

As a stay at home Mom, I find this slightly offensive. Are they suggesting that a paid government employee can give my child better quality care than I can? That just because he or she has a degree in Early Childhood Education they are more qualified to raise my son than I, his mother? That he will learn more being in a regimented programmed environment with multiple children his age than he will spending time dialoguing and reading one-on-one with me, or helping and observing me bake, clean, cook, socialize and shop?

I am not saying that it is not important for there to be good quality day care for those who are interested in going back to work. I am just wondering why it is fair for billions of dollars to be put into a child care program which excludes those who choose to care for their own children. It seems to me that this is yet another way in which parents who choose to care for their children are subtly demeaned by Canadian society. If we were really "good" people we would want our children to be a part of this "early learning" program and get back to being productive members of society by rejoining the workforce.

Doesn't this suggest an underlying social agenda? One that encourages all Canadians to have families where both parents work and the children go to state run Day Care and then to state run schools. An agenda that teaches children from one year of age onwards the norms and values that the state desires to promote, as opposed to any ethics or beliefs a parent might wish to pass on to their child.

Personally, I am not up for this agenda. I think it is silly of Paul Martin to accuse the Conservative Party of having an "hidden agenda" when they offer to give all parents of children under 6 money to spend on the child care method of their choice. Parents can use the money to subsidize their Day Care expenses, to pay a babysitter, to enrich their single income family standard of living, or, if they really want to, to buy beer and popcorn. It seems to me that giving every family money means giving every family a choice. Yes, such a plan does support stay at home parents. But it also equally supports parents who go back to work and want to pay for another child care alternative. In my mind that is a equitable system. It is a system that supports authentic diversity as opposed to covert hegemony.

1 comment:

Kristen said...

Thank you Jill for so elequently stating what has been on my mind. The NB provincial premier has been under attack here in NB from Day Care centres and the like because it refused to sign the National Day Care strategy. Their rationale was the same...they supported giving money to those who chose Day Care but also wanted to have something for those who wished to stay home with their children or choose another child care alternative. Jonathan and I both work, but we both have Elijah as our number one priority. We are able to make it work so that he spends very little time in child care (1 1/2 days a week) and that when he is in child care it is in the private home of a friend with a child of her own the same age. He is getting social time with his best friend and we can rest easy that he is getting the kind of care that we deem best for him. Why shouldn't our family be eligible for the same kind of subsidies that those with their children in full time daycare receive?