Advocating For Better Child Care

Child care in this country is in crisis. There are too few licensed daycare facilities to serve the large number of children who require quality care.  Though it may not seem like it, your voice does count, and only by raising your concerns about the quality of daycare in this country with your elected officials can you hope to bring about change.

You can advocate for expanded and improved child care both in your community and nationally by:

    * SPEAKING UP, loud and clear, about your child care concerns. You could begin by:
    * Getting on your centre's board of directors or parent advisory committee;
    * Speaking up about child care with your friends, fellow workers, community members, or anywhere else parents gather;
    * Joining other advocacy or lobbying groups, locally and nationally. If no one is actively advocating for better child care in your area - take up the challenge and start an advocacy organization or local chapter yourself;
    * Getting together with fellow employees and to talk to your employer about your child care needs and the possibility of establishing a child care program or family benefits package; or
    * Bringing up the issue of child care at union meetings.

Talking Politics

The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all in their separate and individual capacities.  Abraham Lincoln

Getting the government to listen to your concerns is not as simple as it sounds. But with determination and persistence, you can make them listen. Here are a few suggestions for talking politics and getting action.

    * Write to your local, provincial/territorial/state and federal representatives. Address your member of Parliament or Congress, your state/provincial representative or your local council person. Identify yourself, your home town, and your concern. Let them know where you stand on the issue and that their stand on the daycare issue will be a determining factor in how you vote.
    * If your representative is not up-to-date on the issue, offer to educate them. And do so. Send them all the information they need to see where your concerns lie. Get them on your side.
    * By the same token, you should be abreast of what current legislation affects daycare in your area, what legislation is pending, and what else is being done to address the issue. The better informed you are, the better your chances of getting your point across to your elected official.
    * Offer to voice your concerns at public hearings, or to testify before any and all subcommittees, committees, or any other public forum. Get other concerned parents involved in this process.
    * Find out what officials are responsible for daycare legislation and contact and lobby them directly. Raise the issue with every minister, senator, and house representative under who's jurisdiction daycare falls.
    * Most of all, be persistent.

Employers as Partners in Child Care

Many employers are now realizing the importance of helping their parent employees with the demands of working and parenting. Workers who feel secure in their child care arrangements are less likely to take time off, or be late because of daycare problems. They spend less time worrying about their child and more time concentrating on their job - hence their performance level increases. To get your employer involved, stress the benefits as previously mentioned. You might also mention that:

    * a company package that includes "family benefits" is often an incentive for persons to stay with the company; for hiring the type of employees the company seeks; and for reducing costs involved in all areas of personnel management and production.

Some ideas to discuss with your employer include:

    * setting up an on-site or off-site facility;
    * purchasing enhanced resource and referral services;
    * providing seminars on child care and other family issues;
    * creating better flex time and leave policies;
    * establishing a sick child care program;
    * and so on.

Your quest for daycare reform may not be an easy one. But you don't have to go it alone. The organizations listed below can help you.

The Canadian Day Care Advocacy Association
323 Chapel Street
Ottawa, Ont. K1N 7Z2

The Canadian Child Care Federation
#306, 120 Holland Ave.
Ottawa, Ont. K1Y 0X6

Child Care Action Campaign
330 Seventh Ave., 17th Fl.
New York, NY 10001

Child Care Employee Project
6536 Telegraph Ave.
Suite A-201
Oakland, CA 9460