For most family child care providers the answer is “Both!”
Family child care providers love children. It’s their number one motivating factor. But, earning money is also important.
Unfortunately, in our society we undervalue the work of providers. Federal and state governments drastically underfund the child care system. Many parents can’t afford the true cost of child care. As a result, providers are often forced to subsidize the system with low wages.
Yet, some parents assume providers should be happy to do their work without regard for money.
This comes up when a parent complains about paying a late pickup fee, leaves without giving a two-week notice, or objects to a provider enforcing her contract or policies. If a provider tries to enforce her rules, the parent sometimes acts offended, and might say, “You’re just in it for the money.”
This attitude is an attempt to shame providers into not enforcing their rules. But, it’s also a reflection of how society views caregivers of young children as less worthy citizens. It’s like saying, “You don’t deserve to be paid for your work.”
It’s also a statement about the undervaluing of work primarily done by women.
The irony is that parents who think, “This provider only cares about money” don’t realize that providers as a group don’t make a lot of money! In fact, most parents probably make more money than most providers!
Providers should never apologize for working for money. Why do parents use child care providers? So they can make money! Why don’t parents stay home with their children? Because they can’t afford to! Of course this is a simplification, but let’s not single out child care providers as somehow immune from the realities of working for a living.
There is honor in all work, particularly work caring for young children. People who want to make a lot of money don’t go into the family child care field. In my experience of talking with tens of thousands of providers across the country, I see women dedicated to loving children and oftentimes struggling financially.
It’s true that some parents can’t afford high quality child care and much more needs to be done to make child care more accessible and affordable. But, providers should not put up with any disrespect or guilt from parents about making money.
As a child care provider, you should be proud to have chosen the vital job of caring for children. You should be proud of your commitment to a job that allows you to love children. You should be proud that you can earn a living for your family for the work you do.
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