The Crisis In Child Care

Most of my baby boom generation grew up in a double parent, single income family where the father went off to work and the mother stayed home to take care of the children. That was back in the 1950s and into the 1960s. It was a “Leave it to Beaver” type of family life as portrayed on numerous television shows of that era.

But that nostalgic version of a family is gone with tail fins on cars. Today’s family is more like a single parent, working and taking care of the children or a dual income family with both parents having careers and working full time. As far as my family; my mother went back to her career as a nurse when I was in the seventh grade in 1961. My younger siblings were both in school and we could manage for ourselves at home. I learned how to do my own laundry and we learned to fix our dinners if mother had to work a late shift at the hospital.

Later as a father myself; I had it both ways, as a dual career family and with a stay at home mother. Fortunately, when my daughters were infants and toddlers, my income was sufficient to meet our needs; but left us with nothing to save. Then, after my divorce; the mother was a single parent working full time. For ten months a year I lived as a bachelor as my children lived 700 miles away. Then in the summer, I was a single daddy taking care of two little girls. Somehow we managed all this and now our daughters are self sufficient grown women with their own careers.

But the pandemic has turned the child care situation and business on its end. Most child care facilities are privately operated and usually are local small businesses. There are a few large chains or businesses with several locations. But for the most part, child care for pre school and after school care is a local small business operating on a string. The pandemic has caused many child care facilities to close and many working parents are now working out of their homes instead of some office downtown or in a suburban business park. As a result, many child care facilities are struggling to stay in business.

In addition child care is a highly regulated business. About forty years ago we were considering turning a small two bedroom rental unit into a child care center and operate it as a business. However when I checked the regulations and requirements; the costs of refitting that rental unit as well as the requirements as to how many children we could care for made it too costly to proceed. I have known several people through the years who operated small child care centers. They obviously loved their job and business. However the business of a child care facility operates on a razor thin profit margin.

But since that time when my daughters were toddlers; not much has changed with child care. It is still operated as a small local business with a razor thin profit margin. Very often the people who staff the child care facilities are college educated with degrees in early childhood education. But for their level of education, they are grossly underpaid. Staff turnover can be high as workers seek higher paying jobs.

Once this pandemic is in the rear view mirror, there could very well be a massive crisis in child care as many child care facilities may not be in business or the costs of placing a child in a child care facility may be prohibitive for many families and single parents. This has been a problem that our government; local, state and federal have long overlooked.

The pandemic has exacerbated what has been a brewing crisis in child care. For many working single parents, child care is the only thing that allows a mother to work and remain off welfare. For dual income families, just keeping afloat requires that both parents are working so child care is a necessity.

Other countries offer subsidies for child care and even have government sponsored child care centers available for working parents. Whoever becomes the next president and the congress should examine these potential solutions for a problem that have been vexing families for generations and is now approaching a real crisis. As one columnist wrote recently; “there can be no recovery until the problem of child care is solved”.

Lee Kamps

Lee has been working with Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance since he began working at the Erie County Welfare Department in January 1973 where a major part of his job was determining eligibility for Medicaid. He went into the private insurance business in 1977 with Prudential Insurance Company and within a short time had become one of the company’s top sales agents. In 1982, he was promoted into management where he managed two field offices and as many as thirteen sales agents. After leaving Prudential in 1986, Lee decided to become more focused on health insurance and employee benefits. He has advised many local employers on how to have a more cost effective employee benefit program as well as conducted employee benefit meetings and enrollments for many area employers. The companies Lee has worked with ranged from small “mom and pop” businesses to local operations of large national companies. Lee received his B.S. degree from Kent State University where he has been active in the local alumni association. He has completed seven of the ten courses toward the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist designation. He has taught courses in employee benefits and insurance at Cleveland State University and local community colleges. In addition, Lee is an experienced and accomplished public speaker. He has been a member of Toastmasters International where he achieved the designation of “Able Toastmaster – Silver” in 1994. He has also served as a club president, Area Governor and District Public Relations Officer in Toastmasters as well as winning local speech contests. Lee has also been a member of the Greater Cleveland Growth Association’s Speaker’s Bureau where he was designated as one of the “official spokespeople for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame” prior to the hall’s opening in 1995. He has given talks and presentations before many audiences including civic organizations, AARP chapters and many other community groups. With the implementation of the Medicare Modernization Act (Medicare drug bill) in 2006, Lee has shifted his focus to Medicare and helping Medicare beneficiaries navigate the often confusing array of choices and plans available. As an independent representative, Lee is not bound to any one specific company or plan, but he can offer a plan that suits an individual person’s needs and budget. In addition, Lee is well versed in the requirements and availability of various programs for assistance with Medicare part D as well as Medicaid. While he cannot make one eligible, he can assist in the process and steer one to where they may be able to receive assistance.

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Volume 12, Issue 11, Posted 11:59 PM, 11.01.2020