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We Know How to Provide Good Child Care. We Just Don’t Invest Enough to Do It.


November 28, 2017
Aditi Malhotra and Lillian Mongeau
Slate Magazine

Imagine that you have just entered a room with 12 2-year-olds in it. Three are using a chair as a drum. Two are taking turns snatching a stuffed teddy bear from each other, and whoever isn’t holding the teddy bear is crying. Two more are quietly looking at books, while another is scribbling in one with a black crayon. One has just had an accident in his newly minted “big boy pants” and you can smell it from where you’re standing. Two are building a block tower that is probably about to fall on top of the one playing with a toy car.

Now, imagine you have been tasked with taking care of this group for the next eight hours. That means keeping them safe, clean, and fed at a bare minimum. It would be preferable if you could also play with each of them one-on-one for a while to make sure you have a clear sense of where each is developmentally. Oh, and be sure to arrange some art projects, outdoor exploration, and reading time since loosely organized activities like these help toddlers develop their self-expression, explore their worlds, and learn basic pre-academic skills.

Don’t forget that children’s brains are 80 percent developed by age 3, so the experiences you provide will affect their brain structure for the rest of their lives. No pressure. And yes, of course you’ll be paid: $9.77 per hour, the national average for child care workers.

Would you stay?