I Have Pretty Good Daycare.
I shopped around quite a bit while I was pregnant with my first child and right after he was born. I checked online mommy groups for advice and drove around my neighborhood. The places I found were not very nice and the biggest red flag was that the kids did not seem happy at most of the places. Most places also had long waiting list. I was freaking out a little because it was getting to be time to go back to work. I remembered that a former male coworker had mentioned a daycare with cameras so parents could monitor my child from work. It took me a long time to find such a place but I finally did. I toured the place and saw happy kids greeting the director by her name everywhere she went. It was clean and all the policy materials were given to me upfront. I was happy to hear that their turnover rate was low too. When it came time to narrow it down, I took my husband to see that facility and the next one down on my list. The other place was alright and they were open until 8pm at night which would give me plenty of time to work late here and there. It was cheaper than my first choice too. My husband was not happy with the place with the extended hours. When I explained to him that most places weren't even half as nice as that one, he was shocked. After showing my husband my first choice, he was a lot happier. He wasn't happy about the price but thought it was worth it to have our child in a better facility. I was happy that their classrooms were a little smaller than the state's standard. The catch was that there was a waiting list. Our child would be on a waiting list three months or so after I returned to work.
We cobbled together a plan to make it work. He switched to working 4 10 hour days Wednesday through Saturdays. I went back to work four days a week with the understanding that this was a temporary schedule. That left me home on Wednesdays. On Thursdays I found a women who was watching another child in her home. On Fridays my elderly mother came over and watched my son. After awhile the women watching my child on Thursdays decided to go back to work outside the home. I found a college student who did not go to school on Thursdays through my neighbor's church. She took over on Thursdays. Things were a little tense as we waited for the opening at the daycare. My son was getting too heavy for my elderly mother to take care of him all day, even though it was only one day a week. I was also concerned that my mother's hearing problems would affect her ability to care for her grandchild all day. Both women who watched my son on Thursdays lived really far away. Finally there was an opening. I think I watched my son on the cameras a Several hours a day the first week. When I because pregnant with my second child the director made sure I was on the waiting list and would have a space before it was time for me to go back to work. Every once in awhile there is a minor problem but it's always been resolved after talking to them.
I do wish they were open later. There have been times when it would be beneficial to my career if I could stay later to work on projects. These projects really can't be done during business hours. Anyone who works in IT can commiserate with me on this. I'm not going to be fired for not being available most nights but I will be passed over for promotions because I'm lacking in the experience that working on these projects give me.
The cost of my childcare is more than my mortgage. It's almost enough to have me quit my job. But health benefits are not offered through my husband's employer and this is common in his industry. They are offered at my employer. The cost of those benefits were the deciding factor in me going back to work. The cost of the licensing fees for daycares in my state just went up 800% all in one shot (no this is not a typo) to make them some of the highest in the country. I know the cost will be passed on to me and the families that come after me. The daycare that I use has already been struggling in this economy because more people are out of work and are subsequently keeping their children at home with them. While I've liked the even smaller classrooms, I know it's hard on the business and it's employees, who are almost all women with children, have had already had their hours reduced. I'm appalled that the state would balance their budget on the backs of these women and children. I was shocked when the governor of Arizona, a mother herself, made this decision. Daycares that cannot come up with the extra money face stiff late fees too. I'm concerned that many will close or raise their rates.