Topic submitted by Tom for Vancouver ChangCamp 2011
Child care is at at the heart of Vancouver. Without loving child care that meets the needs of children and families, the city’s economy could not function and our children would neither survive nor thrive.
This goes beyond issues related to the provision of child care programs, such as expanding spaces at daycare centres and or supporting the provision of care through nannies and family child care providers. In fact, anyone who cares for a child is a child care worker. Most child care is actually unpaid work, as most care is provided by moms, dads, grandparents, neighbours, and friends. And this work is not only unpaid, but it’s also unrecognized and unsupported.
As members of the community, children depend on others to care for them. And as members of the community children also experience the same pressures faced by many adults in the city. This issues include sky-rockecting housing prices, longer and more tiresome commutes, a decline in social spending, increases in economic insecurity, and widening income inequality.
While most children may not recognize or directly face these pressures, children do feel the pressures in the form of less time with care providers, in the lack of quality child care options for families, in stress, in a lack of supports, and in missed educational experiences.
Child care as a city is about how we choose to relate to the youngest members of our community. A whole range of issues intersect with child care, from the future of the planet, to the realization of full potential through early education programs, to pressures and insecurities placed on families. Will we treat children as invisible and silenced members of our community, or recognize and respect children as equally worthy members of the community?
Additionally, child care connects with issues involving adults – especially in terms of gender equity and respect for workers. Lack of affordable, accessible and high quality child care creates barriers for women trying to make ends meet. The low-wage workforce of daycare providers, early childhood educators, nannies, and family care providers is almost entirely composed of immigrant women, who are excluded from economic opportunity in large part because the work they do is considered as “women’s work” and therefore not worthy of adequate or fair wages and resources.
So what are we, as city, prepared to do together with children? Are we prepared to recognize children as members of the community, to include and involve children in decisions that affect children’s lives? Are we prepared to prioritize children’s well-being? Are we going to provide supports for families and ensure that all child care workers are treated with the respect they deserve?