Thursday, June 12, 2008

Day Care, Part 1

How do people afford daycare?

I have been looking into sending Sun to daycare part time. I think he needs some more social interaction now that he is two, and frankly, he's too smart for me. He needs some more stimulation than I'm able to deliver right now. Truthfully, all I really want is for him to be in some kind of class--music, art, sports, etc.--not necessarily a day care setting. But, I am having a hard time finding a class for a two-year old where he can be somewhat independent of me and he can make "friends" (as much as a 2-year-old can) that he will see on a regular basis. So, I thought--a couple of days in a quality day care program might be the best alternative.

So, I started checking out places in my area. I will not name names, but let me just breakdown what I have learned so far:

Nationally recognized school program - two 1/2 days--$400/mo.; two full days--$510/mo.
Highly recommended local day care - three 1/2 days (their minimum)--$135/week.
Another highly recommended day care - two full days--$440/mo (and they include lunch!)
Church day care program - two full days--$470/mo (and no openings until Fall!)

These figures are for a PART-TIME schedule. I'm afraid to ask what the full-time rate is.

When I was raising my two looong ago, I was outraged that I was paying $80.00 a week!!! for TWO children, full time. Of course, we were a struggling newly married 20-something couple, so that was an outrageous price for us to afford. But we did it somehow.

Today, though, with my part-time salary, it is not "cost effective" to enroll Sun in day care, even part time. I would have to work full time to afford part time care; and then I would need full time care, of course, for TWO children again. Two children in day care at these rates. I ask again, how do people do it?

There is a program called Title 20 that helps low-income parents, and kinship caregivers like us, with the cost of daycare. After seven pages of paperwork, you still have to wait a month or more before you get a response (so I'm told). Also, you have to name the center where you want your child(ren) to attend. The problem is that most centers I've contacted have limited space available, and some have none at all at this time and no guarantee they will have any until Fall. Even then, you're on a wait list. So, how can you choose a place, wait 30 days, during which time your spot may be taken, without shelling out the first month or two (because the schools make you pay ahead of time) of these exorbitant fees? It's a Catch-22.

I know that with diligence and a lot of phone calls and site visits, I could probably find someplace affordable, but will it offer the kind of stimulation and interaction I want for him? As with anything else, you get what you pay for.

For now, he's staying home with me. One ray of hope--I contacted a group of Mocha Moms here and they have play groups, field trips, and Mommy Meet-ups. I have not attended a meeting yet, and I suspect these Moms will be in their 20s and 30s, not 50 like me. Where are the Grandmommy Meet-ups, the Mom-Again Meet-ups?

I have not yet found a support group for kinship caregivers in my area (Columbus, Ohio). My husband's advice--start one.

More about this later. In the meantime, if you know of a support group for Kinship Caregivers in Columbus, send me a lifeline--uh, I mean an email.

I am an Older Mocha, Mom Again

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