There has been a rising concern among working parents, especially for those with children under age five, as many face the challenges of maintaining double incomes to afford quality day care. And while a weakened economy has caused families to tighten their purse strings, there is an increased need for reliable child care. Many parents are now depending on family members to keep an eye on their little ones.
Conversely, many parents do not have the luxury of family members nearby to help care for the youngsters. While they trek to jobs, many located farther away from their homes than they might like, the fact is that they are wrestling with worries about where to leave the kids while they’re earning a living.
“Friends of mine are struggling to find affordable day care," explained Sarah Mejia, a New York City school teacher and resident of Great Neck. “Most are teachers who need early hours and many daycares don’t open until 7 a.m. The commute takes them over an hour.”
Mejia and her husband, Alex, are raising two children, age six and two, both of whom have gone to day care at their grandparents’ home for the last six years. When her daughter Alexis was born, Mejia wanted assurance that the person to whom they brought their child in the morning was trustworthy, nurturing, and would provide a safe, loving atmosphere. When her mother-in-law offered to watch Alexis, she and her husband were thrilled.
“She loves the kids as her own, cooks for them, teaches them a second language, gives them hugs and kisses at least 100 times a day, and is more careful than we are. I go to work knowing my children are safe, warm, loved, clean, and well-fed—best of all, it’s free,” said Mejia. “If we had to pay for daycare we would never stay afloat. It would not pay for me to work, as our quality of life would be affected and we could not afford our home.”
While there is still a demand for child care providers, sadly, many families can’t afford them. However, there is help and resources for families with child care needs. The Child Care Council of Nassau, Inc. is a nonprofit that provides child care counseling and referrals to families; professional development; technical assistance to active and potential providers; and offers services to employers interested in the child care needs of employee’s families.