Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Struggles in Finding Common Ground Between Daycare Providers and Parents

My name is Lesley, and I was a Home Daycare Provider for over 20 years. I am a Registered Early Childhood Educator, a RECE, who has worked in daycare centres and in community resource centres. I now own A Sacred Journey, where I am a Birth and Postpartum Doula, I teach Reiki, I teach Prenatal, Birth, and Postpartum Classes, I volunteer for many community groups, and I hold monthly women’s support groups. Most importantly, I am a mom to four now adult children and a proud Nana.

In all these years and under all these different hats, here is what I have learned. Daycare Providers and Parents see things from under to extremely different lenses and they struggle at times to understand each other.... but I have found there are a few topics they will agree upon.

1.       They both agree that children need to be safe, loved, well care for, and both parties love the children
2.       They both value children and see them as competent individuals
3.       They both value children and their need to explore outside
4.       They both are aware children have physical, emotional, social, cognitive, and phonological needs
5.       They both agree children deserve and need love

At times both struggle to see each other’s sides on:
1.       Providers think they deserve more pay; which they do. Some providers feel that some parents take the time and energy, put into their children and do not value it. They feel unheard and frustrated that parents do not see all the work they do with the children each and every day.
2.       Parents struggle over the costs of daycare with the fact that want to have money left over to share time with their children. They want the very best of care for their children. Some parents feel that the provider is taking over a role that they do not want to give up.
There are of course are more issues, feelings and options, but these are the main ones. Under all of these issues, really what is happening if providers feel undervalued and parents feel taken advantage of by a system that does not help families meet the expenditure needs of having children in this world. There is funding for lower income families and higher income families are able to cover the cost; leaving the middle income families at times struggle with the daycare costs creating hard feelings between providers and parents.

Okay, simply stated...  so now what..... You have to pay for daycare or not have a job right? This matter of fact position makes parents feels like being stuck in between a rock and a hard place. Where do you go? How do you choose the very best of care? How do you keep a positive relationship with your provider, when you feel frustrated over rates and the time they spend with your children?

Where do you go and how do you choose the very best of care?
Start by creating a list of what are you most important non-negotiable for a home provider. But try and remember, no one is you, no one is going to be perfect and do the entire thing you would like done with your child. Providers do try, but they are not able to be someone they are not. Look for someone who is as close to the personality and skill set that you are expecting for care.  Find a daycare question or check list to bring to the interview. Start talking to people, ask friends, join facebook groups for providers and parents, spend some time reading the providers comments to other parents, especially when there is contention; it will shed a huge light on how the provider handles stress and how they truly feel. These conversations will also share what is important to the provider and what they will fight for.... most times it is about money, late fees, or non payment. Money issues in childcare are one of the number one problems, late payments, bounced checks, or no payment at all; all the while the provider is putting out money for food, crafts, and emotional energy.

How do you keep a positive relationship with your provider, when you feel frustrated over rates and the time they spend with your children?
Communication is huge in maintaining a positive relationship with your provider. When both parties are aware of situations and the need of each other they are able to be supportive so both are feeling heard and valued. Ask yourself some questions.... How does your provider get to the doctors? What if her child needs eye glasses or allergy testing during the day?  How does she get to the bank if you give her a cheque? When does your provider get time off and how does that look is she dealing with business at night time too? Can she stop for a coffee when she is done work? How does her lunch break work? Having an awareness of the other person’s side day helps both sides be more flexible with each other.

Paying daycare fees on time is the next big thing. There is nothing worse than having to ask a parent to pay their fees. It makes the provider uncomfortable and they worry there is going to be an argument over it. Money is one of the biggest struggles in this world.... they question I will ask parents is this... do you have to remind your boss to have the pay cheques made up for you, or is it completed like always on payday? Now here is the biggest one, would you go back to work tomorrow without getting paid?
Behaviours of being undervalued these feelings can come on both sides of this coin and make a good relationship bad in a few moments.

The best advice I can give is to keep communication with each other, if you do not like the provider or parent at the very start the feelings will probably not get better. In fact, when you are upset with someone, every little thing they do does get under your skin more and make you more upset with them.  Show each other how much you value each other, the work, energy and love that the other gives the children you both care for and love!

Best of luck to both sides in finding common ground....
Lesley Cressman, RECE