Jeff Tucker’s post on the supposed failures of the daycare market got me thinking about some of the messages implicit in the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies report that criticises government oversight of daycare programs and calls for more regulation. Let’s think about this for a minute. What is daycare, anyway? It’s essentially the outsourcing, for some period of time, of the job of taking care of your children. When not done by daycare providers, this job is done by parents. It makes sense, then, that you would want your daycare provider to take care of your child as well as you would do it yourself. But what I take away from this article is that many of us are woefully underqualified to be parents. If we apply the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies standards to everyone, parents should:
Have a bachelor’s degree, preferably in child development (Bye bye, parents who never went to college! Did you think this was a job for amateurs?)
Be trained in CPR (Always a good idea, but I doubt most parents are.)
Have criminal background checks (I guess you and your prospective partner could run checks on each other. But what if you both have a record?)
Have child care training (You did take a class before you had kids, didn’t you? This isn’t something you learn as you go, people!)
Have an appropriate provider-to-child ratio (There go those people I saw on the Discovery Channel who had sextuplets).
And don’t forget having your home inspected for cleanliness and safety by the state!
Certainly these may be qualities that parents want in a daycare provider, but I doubt they are all present in every home in America where kids are being raised. A politician who was seeking to regulate the industry did the standard trotting out of a terrible tragedy supposedly preventable by regulation when he “…evoked the 2004 drowning of a toddler at a licensed day-care facility in Riverside, Calif” (a terrible tragedy that certainly never happens when children are at home). Some people settle for people who seem to know what they’re doing with children; I know someone whose childcare arrangement consists of someone who already has kids, and whose parenting style is presumably compatible with her own. The article makes it appear that the failure in the daycare market is that parents can’t find people who are better qualified to raise their kids than the parents themselves. Forget daycare licensing; why not parent licensing?