Saturday, May 15, 2010

Low Quality Child Care Makes Kids and Teenagers Stupid and Mean

Its true. According to a study described in the Washington Post this week low quality childcare in the first 4.5 years of a person's life can make them perform worse academically and show more aggressive behaviors than classmate who received high quality childcare. This effect lasts throughout childhood and into the teenage years.

The article, or the experts mentioned in the article, call for more government and private employers to provide access to high quality child care. I agree wholeheartedly, and can see how certain programs could improve access to childcare, but part of me wonders how you ensure that caretakers show "warmth, sensitivity and emotional support" - some of the traits that the study assigned to high quality providers. These are not traits that you can train a person to have, and they are difficult to interview for. In fact, often you really need to get to know a person to see if they have those traits, and if they will show those traits to your kid.

That makes me think that a lot of the programs that the government should put into place should be for the parents. Maybe training the parents in interview techniques that would allow them to pick out low quality vs. high quality caretakers. Or even having social worker type people that parents could talk to about their childcare choices, or who could visit some of the providers with them.

I know that many states license child care facilities, and will have people visit the facilities regularly to check in on them, but from my experience this system doesn't work. For example, my daughter spent about two weeks in an in-home child care facility that charged $1800 freaking dollars a month. We thought we were paying for quality. The ladies seemed nice, they were licensed by the county, which has some of the most strict rules in the country, and were never cited for any violations. However, after two weeks of dropping my daughter off, and then coming to pick her up at random times, and occasionally staying there for an hour or so to chat and see how she was adjusting, I discovered that they regularly violated county rules and did not do what they were telling the parents they were doing.

So, I guess what I'm saying is, its up to parents to make sure that our kids are getting the love, attention and support they need. And yes, the government should play a role in this, because really, when we have a bunch of stupid mean teenagers running around this is not just a family problem, but a societal problem. But we need a new system. Something that helps overwhelmed, exhausted, clueless parents figure this all out.


  1. The problem is, money for this comes from taxes, which come from people's paychecks, which in turn means you have less money and are more likely to have to have a two salary home and put your kid in daycare.

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