Let's see.... well this morning I saw a link suggesting that a D-Senator in California was putting in a bill that, according to the wording, could end up with babysitters becoming part of a union that would require parents to pay them minimum wage and even make sure they had a break every 2 hours, etc. If this is indeed true - what are they thinking?? what the hell? I am not posting a link because I have not managed to read the whole bill myself yet, but the excerpts I read could definitely be interpreted that way 'caregivers'. I could not find anything in my first look at the bill that defined what exactly a 'caregiver' would be so at this point, I am going with the blanket possibility that even babysitters could fall under this. Can you imagine?
I'm not saying the old going-rate from my teen babysitting years be $2/hour lol but I think if you are looking after a child some evenings and weekends, you should be happy with about half of what minimum wage in your area would be. That would be about $4.50/hour for my province, which just so happens to be the hourly rate at my daycare center if a child is only going to be there a couple of days in a month. But anyway, imagine if that were to happen here and you had to pay a babysitter 9 bucks an hour AND provide them with a second babysitter so they could get a break. Every 2 hours? Um.... what are the labor laws in Cali? I can work under Alberta Labor laws for 4 to 4.5 hours before getting a break. When I worked 3 hour shifts at a grocery store, I didn't get a break at all. But now babysitters could end up with a break after 2 hours? Are you kidding me? That's crazy. So then you have to also pay the second babysitter... but wait.... under their labour laws do they have to pay someone a 3 hour minimum like here as well? Say goodbye to dinner and a movie once a month (or once a year like me lol). The cost would just be insane. Especially for those working lower paying jobs. Or let's say I wanted a sitter while I was at work. I might as well not even go in because my sitter would be making MORE than me (after you factor taxes and other deductions off my hourly pay)... so yeah that would not be cost efficient at all if i worked a min wage job and needed a sitter sometimes (let's say there is an overlap between a husband and a wife's job so they only need a sitter for a couple hours or so a day). What is this all coming to if that California bill is true and gets interpreted that way?
All of these things drive me crazy because I work in childcare and we and the parents feel the brunt of all these silly rules and regs all the time. I have started working on our yearly Accreditation and it's not even due til March, but I have so much paper work to do and little time to do it in, I have to start 6 or more months early every year. Why? It's crazy. This year seems to be all about the nitty gritty paperwork details too. I have to almost completely re-write our business policy book from start to finish! We have to have a concrete written policy for EVERYTHING. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. From wiping noses to wiping butts, from signing forms to who is in charge of making sure each and every single little tiny detail gets done. We now have to store all incident reports in the children's files for 2 years. So everytime junior needs a bandaid, we have to have the parents sign a form that we have provided explaining what happened, when, where, how, who was there, etc (which we have done for years), but then file it. Some kids will have files 5 inches thick because they like to fall down and get scraped on the rocks that we were forced to fill the playground area with years ago. But like policies for everything and anything you can think of - stuff that should be common sense to the vast majority of most human beings, but now we have to write it down. If we don't, we lose our Accredited status and that makes us look like a bad center when we are actually running the same as we always have, and the parents are happy. the kids are happy. but the govt wont be if we dont have everything in writing somewhere. I think it's going to almost double our current huge policy book. *sigh*
But, honestly, parents are led to believe this is for the protection of their children. I can tell you that my gut says No It's Not. It is nothing but a huge ass-covering episode by the govt. Why? Because there have been a few bad things happening at dayhomes and daycares around the province the past few years (one leading to the death of an 18 month old girl in my city... horrible horrible awful thing to happen)...... and the govt is the one that supposedly looks after us, overseeing things and making up the rules. So when something bad happens, people yell and scream at the govt too. They ask how this could happen. Why when the govt has vetted each person, why could this still happen. Etc etc. Well - now the govt is finding a way to pass the buck back down. If we all have a specific written policy about everything - the govt can say 'well look, the center had this policy, we approved it, but the center did not follow their own policy, so they are solely at fault. Don't look at us'. I swear to you, that's what this is about. They don't want to get their hands dirty any longer, so they are putting it all on the centers (which is actually where the fault would truly lie in the end, that's not what I am getting at). The govt is just tired of the blame also being put on them, so they are going all-out to wave the smoke away from their office desks and have reason to say 'no, we made sure they knew what they were doing. the director was supposed to make sure this was done properly, as it says in their policy book, and they didn't. so the director (or whoever is named in the policy clause) is at fault alone. not the govt'. The end.
Just like a few years ago when we suddenly had to alter all our signs to add a phone number that could be reached after hours. Not the center's phone number, but something else like the Director's home or cell number. It was kinda weird. We couldnt figure it out. Who on earth would be coming to the center after hours? If we are closed - we are closed. You can't bring your kid on an evening, weekend, or holiday - so why would having a phone number make any difference? We were baffled when we were told that people were contracted by the govt to come around by a certain date ALL ACROSS THE PROVINCE to check every center and ensure they had a number posted. It was mind boggling!!! But then, someone let it slip.
The summer before, an infant had been left in a center and all the staff had gone home and locked up!! The parent arrived to find the doors locked, lights out, and their child still inside. She didnt know who to call so she called 911. Of fricken course. But anyway, this govt official told us that they dont want that to happen. If a child is left at the center, they want the parent to be able to call a number to get the staff to come let their child out, so the media and police would not need to be called. That is a quote from this govt spokesperson. I stumped her because I said "well Im sorry, but I am a parent too, and after I called the staff to scream about my kid being locked in there, I would be calling 9-11 as well. Immediately afterward'. The govt lady's mouth dropped open. It was almost like no one had thought of that scenario. What are we paying these Children's Services people FOR??? omg.
Anyway so the number was not for the center or the child's safety, it was so that if an incident like that happened again, the parent could reach center staff and not call the cops. Ha. Fat chance on that!!! They are insane, they really are. Those at the top sitting behind a desk making up rules that really do not work in real life.
Another thing we are finding more and more is a conflict between standard basic important regulations like staff:child ratio and the paperwork we have to do all the time. If our primary job is to look after these kids and keep them happy and safe while their parents are working, how can we do that while sitting down to fill out reams of paperwork, daily activity lists, program plans and observations, parent communication books, etc. It actually says that we are to be focused on the children. We are not counted as focused on the children if we are cleaning (you need to have an extra staff person for cleaning times), so how can we be counted as in ratio if we are staring at pieces of paper instead of watching the children? And if centers have to start hiring more staff to cover for when main staff are doing paperwork, the fees parents pay are going to skyrocket. We have kids that leave at 230, 300, 330, 400, 430, etc- so would I just basically get to sit in a chair for 3 hours or so writing on papers and communication books to have them ready for when mom/dad come, making $14/hr, while a casual staff member comes in for that time, making $9.hour but actually doing MY job of looking after the kids? something isn't right about that at all! But that is what it is coming to.
I know I rant about this topic a lot, but it's my blog and my job and I'm also a parent of 3, so it hits home a lot. I sometimes hope that other parents will come across this and think about what they are asking of their childcare centers because in the end, it is parents who are requesting a lot of this stuff. It sounds like a super great idea to have a little communication book to learn what your kiddo did all day, what/how much they ate, if they went outside to play, how long they slept, etc. But you also have to think about when that book will be filled out. And think about how the caregiver probably has between 5 and 9 other children in their group to do the same thing for each day (depending on the children's ages).... so if it takes me 3 mins to fill out your child's page, it will actually take between 15 and 27 mins to do them all. What are your children doing during that time? Who is watching them? Could we have done a fun craft or story instead, enjoyed by all the kids? Or should I just let them run around largely unwatched while I fill out those books, along with all the other paperwork required by the govt (cleaning checklists, sign in-out pages, developmental observations, program planning observations, etc). That could take up to an hour a day instead of me directly interacting with your child, not to mention keeping a proper eye on your child. I'm not sure how I could fill out an Incident Report if I didn't get to see who bit your child or why, when my nose was stuck in a pile of 8 books (that's how many kids are in my group).
It's tough. I know it's hard to be at work all day while your child is with someone else. But - that's one of the cold hard facts of life. If you are not with your child, you do not know what they are doing at any specific time. We do have an activity calendar posted that only ONE parent has ever read on a regular basis in the 16 years I have worked at the center. In fact, we used to do one calendar for each of the 3 groups and no one read it apart from this one mom, so after 20 years of the center being open, we changed 3 years ago to making one calendar for the whole center. We all use the same themes now and just expand the activities based on our own age groups. And still, only that one parent reads it but her son's last day was today so he could go off to kindergarten - so I guess that means no parent will read it.
Right beside it we have a permanent list detailing everything we do each day and what time. Example 730 to 900 Free Play. 9-930 Circle Story Time. 930-10 morning snack (snack menus are posted and Ive only seen 2 parents look at it one time each in the past 7 years!), 10-11 Free play... etc. Everything we do for each time slot of the day has always been posted one foot away from the parent sign in book but no one looks at it. Ever. Oh tell a lie, I had one parent actually ask for a copy of it and I thought that was cool so I ran to photocopy the original. That's it though - one parent.
So really, at the end of the day, we've had numerous parents ask us for communication books over the years but none of them actually seemed interested enough to take 5 seconds to look at the calendar wall. If they can't take 5 seconds to read that, why should I spend a half hour every day filling out books? It just frustrates me sometimes. Parents are welcome to pop in or call whenever they like but guess what? None do, or maybe just during the first week to make sure their child is settling in okay. After that, we never get calls. and in the past 13 years, only two parents have ever shown up just to hang out for awhile and then go back to work. Two. Out of well over 150 sets of parents.
We also had our yearly issue of asking parents daily for over two weeks to please send a swimsuit with their child so we could enjoy the hot weather. Guess how many days in August we got to swim? Two. We;ve had 30+ degree weather for 3 weeks but only two days we actually had enough kids bring suits so we could go out and have some fun in the pools and sprinklers. We had extra suits, but not enough for half the center! And at the end of this month we still had 4 children who never did bring one in.
We try hard. We really do. We love the kids and want to do things for them and with them that will be fun, great learning opportunities, memorable, safe, and again - fun. But we are thwarted at every turn by a large number of parents. Those that are really great and truly do take an interest in what their children are doing each day do not go unnoticed by us and we strive to help them out such as by taking photos during activities and then emailing them to each individual parent - that's always been a hit. But only a small handful say thank you or even acknowledge that they got the photos at all. I have spent my own time during lunch hours downloading and emailing photos because I can't really do that during work hours or I'm not with the kids - and I only get 1-3 thank you replies. The same parents each time. Out of 21 we have about 3 that really appreciate and understand and love what we do and I am sorry, but those are the only ones I would ever consider doing a communication book for. But the govt wants me to fill them out for everyone each day, and then all of the parents are going to have to pay higher fees to do it if we are to keep in regulation ratios. Enjoy!
We have also had the teacher's union style regulations come in that the director has to provide paid time for each main staffer to be able to program plan for the month(s) ahead. While doing this, she has to bring in replacement staff. That has caused a fee hike. But it gets peddled to parents as being great. I used to spend one lunch hour a month making my next month's theme. It was no skin off my nose. I was happy to do it during my lunch break. I worked 21 days on avg each month, so I didnt mind spending one doing a bit of work. I loved making my calendar and sticking in any new ideas I had about a theme. But I no longer do that on my lunch hours because the parents have been forced to pay for my replacement to come in while I do it, along with my other staff members at varying times each month.
I am truly waiting for the day when we are told we should just close one day a month for a Professional Development Day as well, like the schools do. That way, we can do some course work or program planning on our own time while getting paid. So that means parents would have less hours of child care, have to pay someone else to watch their kiddo that day or book the day off work and lose pay - all while NOT receiving a lower daycare fee cos we are still getting paid. I already know of some centers in my region that just closed for this whole week to 'get ready for back to school'. What is that all about? And I know of some that have had a staff meeting day every other month! They close the center at noon. Why? Because we are required to have staff meetings. So far we have gotten away with only having informal staff meetings during nap time because we are so small, but I bet we will be forced to have actual ones in the near future and provide Minutes and such as well. Most people do not want to be forced to attend a staff meeting after work hours anymore (i know I dont, because I have 3 kids and a spouse at home that I want to be with) - so that's why so many staff meetings now lead to the business closing early or for a whole day. Parents will get to pay for that as well.
It really has become a mess. I am not as happy in my job now as I used to be because my brain is on other things half the time, and I am also getting too close to not being able to afford childcare at the very center I work at! What is that about?I work in the second 'cheapest' center in town and can't afford it. Wow. My spouse and I both work full time and struggle with the daycare bill. That's pretty sad. But it comes down to a combination of govt rules, and things that have been peddled to parents as being Best for Your Child, and also some parent requests - lobbying the govt for even more rules and regs. It's getting to be a pretty sad state of affairs and I already know that once my youngest is in school, I am moving on to a different job. That gives me two more years to at least TRY to tell people what is going on and make them think about it before jumping on yet another bandwagon. I love working with kids so much, that is all ive ever wanted to do with my life. Ive been working with kids for over 20 years and never thought I would tire of it - but now I am. I do not think it's about hitting 40 and wanting a career change - I happen to think my job is one of the most important on the entire planet. I am in charge of keeping human beings safe and happy every day, while their parents are out there working, so they do not have to worry about them. I had terrible things happen to me as a child and I dont want that to happen to anyone else. I have spent the last 2 decades helping hundreds of kids and their families and that was very fulfilling until things started to go pear-shaped to the point where I no longer want to deal with it anymore. I am working with the kids, they make me laugh every day, I love to meet them and watch them grow and send them off to school like an auntie (or gramma lol), but I dont like everything else that has come with the job and my coworkers feel the same way. That's pretty darn sad :(