Child Care: Children's advocates might be pushing for a universal system of child care in this country, but support for that idea is far from universal among parents, a new survey suggests.
According to "Necessary Compromises," released late last month by the New York City-based nonprofit research organization Public Agenda, a majority of the parents questioned—60 percent—said finding child care was their own responsibility, not the government's and not their employers'.
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|Copies of the report, "Necessary Compromises," are available for $10 from Public Agenda, 6 E. 39th St, New York, NY 10016; (212) 686-6610. Or, you can download the report from Public Agenda. (Requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader.)|
"[P] arents of young children endorse a variety of measures to improve child care when they are asked about them, but there is little outcry for action, little self-propelled demand for government to step in," the report says.
Parents and advocates also don't share the same views about whether high-quality child care is just as beneficial to children as staying home with a parent.
Seventy- eight percent of the 216 experts, professionals, and activists surveyed said that "top-notch day-care centers can provide children with care and attention equal to that of a stay-at-home parent."
Parents, on the other hand, said that the best child-care arrangement during the early years is to have one parent at home. Seventy percent of the 815 parents interviewed, all with children 5 years old or younger, said they most favored that option, and 46 percent said a child-care center was their least-preferred option.
Parents also expressed distrust of child care in general and fear of possible physical or sexual abuse at centers. Low-income parents were even more worried that their children would neither be safe nor get the attention they need in a center.
Parents give centers more credit, however, for helping older preschoolers learn social skills and for teaching basic skills, such as the alphabet.
If the government does undertake steps to help parents with child care, it should be to implement policies that would make it easier for one parent to stay home, the parents surveyed said. Sixty-four percent of those surveyed said they wanted the government to give a much bigger tax break to parents who stay home to take care of their young children.
Parents also believe employers could help them by opening on-site child-care centers. Seventy-three percent of employed parents said they would use such a facility if it were available. But a majority of the employers interviewed said they were already being as "family friendly" as they could be.
Vol. 20, Issue 1, Page 27Published in Print: September 6, 2000, as Early Years