Between a rock and a hard place

Written By: - Date published: 2:58 pm, January 18th, 2010 - 14 comments
Categories: education, families - Tags:

At the end of the month the new kindergarten year begins. Reading this article in the SSTimes from yesterday reminded me of just how hard the question of childcare is for many parents:

The Kiwi tradition of sending pre-schoolers to kindy is losing favour, as growing numbers of parents seek all-day care for their children.The latest annual census of early childhood education services shows the number of children enrolled in kindergartens has fallen to fewer than 40,000 a drop of 12.4% since 2005. At the same time the number of children enrolled in daycare centres has jumped from 83,889 in 2005 to 101,425 in July 2009 an increase of nearly 21%….

The Ministry of Education census shows the number of children aged three and under enrolled in licensed early childhood centres has jumped in the past five years: there has been an increase of 21% in the number of babies (under one-year-olds); 18.4% for one-year-olds; and 15% for two-year-olds. Home-based services have also gained in popularity, growing 54% in five years.

On average, children enrolled in daycare centres are now spending 23 hours a week there. Most children are enrolled part-time, but since 2005 there has been a 37% increase in the number of fulltime enrolments (more than 27 hours a week). The number of children now classed in fulltime care has jumped from nearly 25,000 five years ago to just over 34,000.

Whether it’s ‘paid-at-home’, creche or kindergarten there are real challenges facing today’s parents (and would-be parents). Whether/ when to return to work, balancing work pressures with the demands of a young family, less money versus more time, growing demands on services. We want parents to return to work, but do we want that to include parents of really young children? Is paid care really the answer? Or longer parental leave? It all adds up to a complex situation that has some fundamental implications further down the track. This young generation will be looking after us in our old age at a ratio we’ve never faced before! Meanwhile parents are hoping they’ve made the best possible choice for their kids.

14 comments on “Between a rock and a hard place”

  1. ieuan 1

    How long before someone here says ‘the Government should provide a wage for those bringing up children’?

    • Ari 1.1

      Only in as much as we should be supporting a UBI anyway. 😛

    • Descendant Of Smith 1.2

      Actually I think employers should pay enough that someone can afford to raise their children. But many employers don’t value people with families – apparently it’s their own selfish choice to have the 2.6 children needed to replenish the population.

      The most selfish people in our society are those who choose not to have children and then berate others for doing so. I’m not sure who they think is going to serve them in the shops and wipe their bum when they are old – Oh that’s right they want my children to do that.

  2. prosaic 2

    The Government should provide a wage for those bringing up children. Or at least they should ensure wages (or wages plus things like Working For Families) are high enough such that one income can support a family. NZ would have a much healthier future if young children were raised by their mother or father in those earliest years.

    • Lanthanide 2.1

      Actually I think there would easily be some children whom would be better off not being raised by their parents. However as it currently stands, people who fall into this category are also the least likely to be able to afford paid care.

      • prosaic 2.1.1

        Their poverty is much more often than not one of the key factors leading to such families’ inability to parent their kids safely. Provide a decent income to families–hell even just provide jobs for all–and kids’ wellbeing will increase dramatically.

  3. ropata 3

    Should a frugal single person without assets (apart from a student loan), be subsidising families that have a nice car, a house, a plasma TV, 2.4 kids and regular overseas holidays? WFF is fundamentally unjust; single people are marginalised and treated as second class citizens; partnered people have better stats in health, longevity, happiness, income, and are now given extra bribes. These never ending claims for govt largesse have to stop sometime.

    I’m happy to pay tax to live in a just society but then to be scolded by greedy people like D.of Smith, who have chosen to overextend themselves, and think the world owes them something, is repulsive.

    Way to scare off skilled young people, NZ.

    • Descendant Of Smith 3.1

      Firstly I don’t think the world owes me anything – I just think that I should be paid enough for my labour to raise a family. This is how it used to be. If we don’t value raising children ( and this means valuing that in a financial way that enables them to be raised, clothed and fed well ) then we reap what we sow.

      Now either the employer pays me a decent wage or the state provides adittional assistance – my clear preference is for the employer.

      I’m also not sure how you consider I have over-extended myself as you know little about me. I’ve also not ever been overseas as my efforts and finances went into raising my children and supporting my wife.

      If you feel berated then one can assume it is because you don’t value the contribution that people who have children make to the future of this country and you are critical of those who need additional financial support at this time.This is further required for families who have children with disabilities.

      Reasonable support is required – it’s unreasonable to say none is hence I’m quite happy to berate those people who believe that.

      As I said you’ve not yet made any contribution to supplying a future workforce and maintaining the population. I’m sure you don’t mind if my kids choose not to serve you in shops, fix your computers, and look after you in hospital.

      Of course the alternative is that you should only have children when you are completely and totally financially secure. This is usually in your late thirites or forties.

      One difficulty with that premise is that to some extent the baby boomers pushed that concept onto their children – many of whom found in later years they couldn’t have children. I know many women who now regret putting all their effort into getting financially secure first for that reason.

      Secondly there is a biological imperative to have children and I also suspect we are better designed to have children young. These aspects seems like common sense.

      Financial security and best time to procreate are almost mutually exclusive.

      Lastly I understand why people with no kids find this statement difficult. Very really are they challenged with the notion that having children is a positive thing to be applauded and supported. Far too often it’s simply promoted as ” you reap what you sow” and “if you choose to have kids it’s your own bloody fault”.

      Sadly those attitudes don’t reflect that you actually live in a community without which you couldn’t enjoy all the things that you do.

      • ropata 3.1.1

        How very strange, you only value people based on their reproductiveness? The universe does not revolve around you and your little darlings. Other people exist and work hard and pay tax. It is not your employers responsibility to pay more, or the governments. It’s YOUR responsibility to look after your family. I am amazed at your demanding attitude. Life is hard work for everybody.

        you’ve not yet made any contribution to supplying a future workforce
        A family is a blessing to which I aspire, but I have paid for others to do so instead. More fool me.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          You only value people based on their reproductiveness?

          Nope never said that. I value every one. The only people I have been critical of is those who don’t have children and criticise those that do and make statements like they are fools for helping support other families. I think it is an honorable thing to do and you should be proud of your contribution.

          What is it in people’s upbringing that places such little value on people raising children.

          It’s YOUR responsibility to look after your family.

          That’s only a modern individualistic construct since currency and paid employment for work became the norm and people took a more selfish attitude. It is quite normal in most societies to take collective responsibility for the welfare of families. I have supported many other families over the years with free food and equipment, cash at times as well as advice and support.

          Are you saying that no support should be provided? You are advocating for the complete removal of WFF assistance, any help with childcare costs, the disappearance of homes for respite care, a large increase in industrial action as employees with families demand better wages and have no concern at all in the resulting crime increase as a result.

          We don’t live in a society where we have the family farm which we till for food – we live in a society where the means of raising your family is through wages. Not everyone is capable or has the opportunity to earn large incomes.

          See nowhere have I said I should do nothing and expect anyone to support me. My simple expectation is an old traditional one ” A fair days wage for a fair days work”. It’s just that I think a fair days wage is more than what many low paid people get now.

          I’m more than happy for the profits of people’s labour to be shared with them on a more equitable basis.

  4. ieuan 4

    So it’s the Governments responsibility to make sure people have enough money to raise their children?

    Here’s a radical idea, how about it’s the parents responsibility to ensure they have enough money to raise their children? And they can do this by educating themselves to get a better job, making good financial decisions and working toward the goal of providing for a family.

    However I do think there is one thing the Government could do to help those of us with children (I’ve got a 2 year old daughter and 9 month old son) and that’s make child care costs tax deductible for the parent returning to work.

    • Descendant Of Smith 4.1

      “Here’s a radical idea, how about it’s the parents responsibility to ensure they have enough money to raise their children? And they can do this by educating themselves to get a better job, making good financial decisions and working toward the goal of providing for a family.”

      But surely if you had done this then you would not need help with child care costs? I sense a disconnect.

      Sorry just being mischievous. I totally agree that you should get help. Out of interest does your wife want to return to work or is it felt that there is little choice as the money is needed? Would income splitting to reduce your tax and having your wife raise your children be an option for you.

      See for me it’s about the thought that women should have either choice – stay at home and raise the kids ( and have income splitting and maybe Universal Family Benefit) or go to work and have an even higher income but some help with childcare costs.

      The difficulty with low wages is that the choice has to a large extent been removed and for many the choice becomes separating and DPB.

  5. Herodotus 5

    So with 2 earners $40k & $55k = $95k with 3 16-18 year olds you are entitled to $55/week WFF and In work $60/week and after tax of $95k-$20k(PAYE)=$75k + benefits $6k
    Single income same family structure
    $95-$27.6 (PAYE)= $67.4k + $6k
    Both get the same WFF, why does it cost less $150/week for a single earning family to live on than double earners?
    No wonder I get the impression that govts ( esp Labour) do not value parentrs and want to take parents out of the family and into the work force.

  6. prism 6

    The quality time that children in full daycare have may be an exclusive hour with a parent before bedtime if the child is lucky. I have seen an example. The father picks up a preschooler from daycare and they go home. Child curls up in front of tv and watches cartoons. Dad plays computer games in another room. Mum arrives home from work and cooks dinner.

    My contention is that a parent, probably but not exclusively the mother, should be paid to stay home for the first two years with the baby/toddler. At the same time they are offered free a tech course on child rearing and psychology and get NCEA credits for it. This would be organised with a short period on premises and work coming through the net. It’s a great opportunity to raise child rearing standards and also get useful education experience which can then be built on. Being at home can be an isolating experience and having a goal beyond just looking after the child would be good for parents.

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