I am a mother of 3 who has utilized every form of childcare that is available. About 9 years ago, I left my high profile banking job to begin a home childcare business. Initially, I started out small with 2-3 children and my youngest child. When I was sure this was what I wanted to do, I went through the NY State licensing process. As a result, the 400 square foot room I had constructed in my basement to devote to childcare was rendered illegal because there was not enough "window" to provide for natural light and ventilation. No matter that the room was well lit and the heating and air was connected to my whole house heating and air system which allowed for fresh air to enter the system every time a door is opened on the main floor. No matter, that I live in the country and children here spend hours a day outside throughout the year basking in the natural light and air. State rule, no exceptions. So, now my daycare room is housed in 144 square feet. Children's free choices are limited, running a child-initiated learning program (which is considered the BEST way to do things) is difficult to do.
If we want to improve the quality of childcare in this country we really need to look at some specific things:
1. Are our regulations so restrictive that common sense is thrown out the door when assessing the quality of each individual program?
2. Can we commit to supporting those of us who choose to provide a multi-age family care environment? This is the most natural place for young children to be as it resembles what was once the traditional family model in this country and in many others. My home should look like a home, not an institution.
3. Can we provide a strong health insurance option for home child-care providers that is economically reasonable? This is tough place to make a living because all of those expenses are borne by the families receiving the care.
4. When we support Early Childhood programs, are we worried about academics or are we ensuring the program's primary goal is to give young children the social tools they need to enter the school setting as well as to develop a lifelong love for learning?