I care about who is doing the caring. A lot.

If you are a regular reader you’ve probably sussed me out by now. I put one or two short, pithy posts up each week, and then build myself up to a more considered researched piece one a week. A few weeks ago now I started to sketch out a post on childcare issues, knowing that The Ministry had some News for us and that debate would kick off soon enough. I still have my sketches, but I have also been utterly pre-occupied with the pronouncements around changing ratios, levels of qualification and how it is all regulated over the last 24 hours. And I don’t feel like writing a steady, informative piece. I feel like just tapping, just connecting my heart and my arguments to the screen and not stopping till it’s all out.

Why does the very concept of someone else caring for our children even exist? Because, sometimes out of choice, but more often out of necessity, parents find the only way they forward is to let someone else look after their child for a part of the working day. And really, underneath all this chattering about qualification levels, professionalisation and raising wages, when a parent hands their child over to another human being all they want is their child to be 1) as safe as they would be with mum or dad, 2) cared for with affection and fondness, and 3) for their child to spend their time occupied as much they might at home. When parents set out to find a childcarer, they focus in entirely on trying to find a place that will meet these criteria.

It is incredibly hard to hand over our children. The worry and the guilt are immense. And rightly so, in a funny sort of way. There is nothing more important than deciding who should be there for your kids when you can’t be. The trust you are required to summon up is superhuman.

None of what is coming out of The Ministry shows any serious concern about what is right for children, or pays any regard to the criteria I have outlined above. Every major study in the last 70 years, and every serious theorist about attachment and development, from Bowlby onwards, has talked about children under 5 needing to feel close and connected to a small number of significant adults. These adults must be reliable, consistent, and able to empathise with their complex needs. The changes proposed to ratios are utterly at odds with all that we know about children’s emotional and developmental needs. In essence , that’s all I have to say. These proposals have been constructed without a moment’s consideration for the people they will most affect. That is all you need to know about them to oppose them, although I urge you to get on to twitter and read the marvellous proliferation of blogs and articles that are pouring forth. I’m hoping they will gather into the most thunderous of waterfalls that metaphorically drowns the whole silly nonsense out.

I will return to my more usual bloggin’ self and write my childcare post soon enough. And do recognise my little rant for what it is, someone saying stuff they really mean about something they really care about.



8 thoughts on “I care about who is doing the caring. A lot.

  1. Hear Hear, Leoarna! My three criteria were always the same as yours. Appalled at the proposed changes. How on earth is it really going to make childcare that much cheaper anyway?? More highly qualified staff will cost more and their duties will be more focussed on planning and assessment rather than childcare anyway leaving who to interact with the children?? And less people to look after more children will obviously affect attachment for all those dear little ones as they will only get a small fraction of that adults time. And potentially it could cause safety issues should there be an evacuation situation for instance. What if one of the adults in the room is in the toilet when the fire alarm goes off and the other one is left with who knows how many children to gather and get out safely?? Don’t know what the answer is but don’t think this is the one 😦

    • The ultimate answer requires a reconstruction of the economy so great that I don’t think it would ever even be suggested. But there are better ways to tinker with the present model than what has been announced today. Thanks for such a fulsome comment Carol; I’ve yet to hear any intelligent suggest all this is a good idea!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I have ricocheted between anger, disgust and disbelief at what I’ve heard today – all in a highly rational manner I assure you. But mostly I’ve been saddened that the people in power are prepared to give our children such short shrift. It seems obvious that very little thought, expertise or experience has been used in coming up with such drivel. Don’t they think children deserve more care and protection than that? I guess not. The sooner the Ministry does a U-turn on these ridiculous, misinformed, damaging – and I use that word advisedly – proposals the better. They clearly know or care jack about child development and attachment. If you’re not into tweeting what’s the next best way to ensure these daft proposals never see the light of day? I feel the need to do my bit to make sure that’s the case

  3. I didn’t need childcare as such, we began with preschool. But I approached choosing a preschool with the same care. After all, they were caring for my child for 3 hours every day and he had to be happy there. There was another very good piece and I think it was in the Telegraph again, that was written from the point of view of the preschool teacher, detailing exactly how hard it would be to deal with six small children’s differing needs at once. I would have been very unhappy to think that my child might have had his needs seen to last (out of necessity – someone has to be last with these sorts of ratios). You are right, there has been no thought for the children concerned. I read a view that said this is just a cynical way to get more women into the workforce and therefore get more taxes. What a nightmare.

    • I think there really it really is an economic-agenda-driven underpinning these proposals. I would applaud any woman trying to make life work for her family and is paid work is what she must do, then all power to her. That’s certainly my situation. But that should not lead to any over-compromise on her part; she should be able to leave her children with professionals who are enabled to put kids first.There’s long way to go with this debate, and do read my more recent post https://notdifferentbutinteresting.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/r2bc-no-xxxx/ for more on the hurly burly of the ratios battle. Thanks again for taking time to comment, L

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