Daycare is a necessity

Posted on in Child & Family Policy Context – opinion/columnists
October 10, 2013.   By Farzana Hassan,Toronto Sun

A recent study conducted by the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, released exclusively to the QMI agency, suggests parents themselves should look after children six and under. Few dispute this conclusion.

The Institute’s statistics show that most parents endorse it, including a whopping 78% of those with a minimum of high school education.

Among parents who are university graduates, the rate drops to 62%. Still the majority, but the lower rate may reflect attitudes among the most educated toward women’s work and the rights of women in general.

Ideally, any child should play, learn and grow in the comfort and security of home.

Children are often not ready to adjust from home to school or a school-like environment at age two or three. They are simply not emotionally ready. Being thrust into a new social environment can hamper their ability to learn, which is the very aim of those who advocate early daycare enrollment.

Added to this is the pressure on modern parents to ensure their children are not left behind in the competition to excel at school.

They may feel that if their children do not go to daycare, they will miss out on the skills acquired by children who do attend.

Many modern parents continually grapple with this issue.

I agree with the findings of the study in any situation so ideal that a mother can look after her own children. If she is well provided for, has a stable home environment, and has the time to spend with her children, it is indeed the best option.

The reality, of course, is different.

Andrea Mrozek, executive director of Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, drew a rather simplistic conclusion in arguing the government must “stop preferentially funding day care centres, which is what our public policy almost across the board does.” This does not take into consideration that staying home with children is an unrealistic option for many single moms.

The government does provide social benefits, but for educated moms who can earn and provide a more comfortable lifestyle for their children now and later, this would entail a step backward.

Further, women with work aspirations are entitled to invest time in their careers. Taking away six years of their working lives can be unfair to women who wish to make their mark in various demanding fields.

Leaving children with relatives or hired help is not always sensible or even safe. Such decisions can be arbitrary and misguided; they are often made simply because the caregivers are available, without regard to their competence in handling children.

In such a scenario, professional daycare is the better option, where trained and educated caregivers look after young and vulnerable children.

All else considered, the ultimate test of good child care is not how early children can recite the alphabet or count to twenty, but whether they can be returned to their parents safely.

Home care may be the ideal, but in the real world I believe the government is right to fund daycare and provide safe spaces for children to grow and flourish.

This is a response to necessity rather than preferential treatment for daycare facilities.

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