Wednesday, July 28, 2010

On the Hunt (for Daycare)

So my previous daycare closed on May 21st after more than thirty years of being in business. The tech school to which it was attached decided arbitrarily, with no input from the director or anyone else, that it could no longer afford to operate the daycare portion, though it functioned as a lab for their Early Childhood Education students.  The teachers were great, and the kids were supremely well-cared for, which is all you can hope for when you leave your child in someone else's care. It's a long sad story, perhaps for another post.

It's also the second time in two years I've had to find another daycare. 

After my initial panic, and a look at the list of "accredited" daycares in my area, inertia set in. I just could not force myself to try to find a place to put Thing Two. My options in my area are severely limited due to the closing of three highly-regarded programs for "financial reasons."

Today I toured a place that is on the way to Thing One's elementary school. It seems to be OK--and was recommended by Thing One's former 4-K teacher. My only objection at the moment is to the overt "Jesus" messages on the walls. I'm not a Christian, and I'm not raising either Thing to be religious, though I will teach them both about what's out there when they're old enough to understand. In some ways, the new daycare isn't much different from the Salvation Army Child Care Center, which is where Thing One spent her days from the time she was 3 months old until the Center closed just after she finished 4K. Thing Two is too young for the messages to mean anything anyway.

The children seemed happy, the ratio is 4 to 1 (child/teacher) and the rooms were bright and clean, so I guess I will pay them $170 per week to look after Thing Two, and be grateful that they had an opening.

On a related note, I have been thinking that since a significant part of the work we're supposed to do for tenure comes during the summer, when none of us are being paid to do anything, much less work 20+ hours/week on PD, universities should make PD funds available to parents to help subsidize the cost of daycare.

I can hear the screaming from single/non-breeder TT folks now: what about us? Well, what about you? Daycare is an expense that comes out of our salary during the regular contract year--by my calculation, it's 1/6th of my take-home pay. Every month. During the summer, I do not have a contract, nor do I have an income; ergo, I do not have money to pay someone to watch my children so that I can match (or dare I say exceed) S/NBTT PDO (professional development output).[To my S/NBTT friends: I do not mean this in a derogatory way. I actually envy most of you.] 

I have made the mistake of trying to get work done without help--and now that the hammer is poised to shatter my 20-year dream of being a professor, I'm forced to acknowledge that getting tenure with children is basically an impossibility--for me--without help from family.

My father-in-law retired in June, and so far the kids have gone to stay with them once for a few days so that I could make some sense out of the chaos that masquerades as my office and get a bit of research done for my article. They're going again tomorrow to stay Thursday, Friday, and part of Saturday, and I'll be spending 8-10 hours in my office on campus both days scrambling to get things ready to send out prior to the August 1st deadline. Nothing quite like the pressure of waiting 'til the last minute... I'm lucky that Dad retired this year instead of sticking it out another year, because there would be no hope for me.

What do people do? How do you function in the summer with no access to childcare?


  1. Interesting...I just had this conversation with a visiting research student. He is a student at another UW school, and is paid through them to do research this summer out of our lab. I am supposedly his local supervisor (well, one of two, but the only one who is on campus regularly), and I get paid nothing to do this. I had to explain to him that, in effect, I PAY to work in summers because of daycare costs.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer. The not-so-good-but-honest answer is that my spouse subsidizes my job. He got out of academia and works in sales, and makes enough that we can, in effect, pay for me to work and yet put food on the table.

    When I really think about it, I don't know how my tenure case would go if I didn't have that luxury.

    As for the S/NBTT friends--I have heard, from some non-parents (probably nobody reading this!), that parents get all the breaks--they have excuses for leaving meetings, etc. I have to say that upsets me...especially when I'm back at work from 9-midnight after the kids go back to bed. For example. I don't think that parents should get out of obligations, but I also think that for the most of us, that isn't happening. Few bad apples, etc.

  2. Have you found a daycare yet? There is a daycare center by FDL High School. Have you checked that place out? I was told it seemed rather nice and somewhat low cost $31 for 5+ hrs or $20 for <5 hrs.