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Child Care Provider is a Real Job and Deserves Real Pay

Updated on January 2, 2018

I've seen it for years in my photography business that people want it for cheap or free, they think my time is not worth anything. It's only photos of their newborn that is only a newborn once, or it's only a wedding day that only happens once.

I am now seeing it ALL the time with my dayhome business and people value what I do even less and I do even more! I watch their children for 9-10, sometimes more, hours a day, feed them two meals plus snacks, transport to and from school and also go on fun adventures with them. I am the parent away from the parent.

Now, every parent or stay at home mom says it's the hardest job in the world, and that people that don't have kids don't understand the work that is involved. I understand this completely but I don't deserve to be paid fairly? How do child care providers have it any easier? Often, we have more children in our care than you do!

Does your boss forget to pay you? Or ask you to work overtime without pay? And would you do it? Of course not! How would you respond if you were asked to work for free? Shouldn’t our job be just as important as yours? We do have the most precious part of your life in our care, your child!

We are not babysitters. We are teachers, and we help raise your child. He or she is with us 40+ hours a week. We are trained and certified professionals and deserve to be paid for the hard work that we do.

Often people do think of child care providers as somewhat similar to elementary-school teachers, but the compensation for child care providers more closely mirrors that of a retail or a food-service worker.

How about overtime, since many seem to think that child care providers should just watch the children no matter what the parents are doing without complaint. Most if not all jobs start getting time and a half after 40 hours a week, so if you need child care for more than 40 hours a week, should the provider not deserve overtime too? And if so, how much would you be willing to pay for overtime? $5 an hour, $10 an hour, whatever your minimum wage is? Working longer, as well as not being paid for our time takes away from us being able to provide and spend time with our own families.

Paying the provider, food, rent, light, gas, water, internet, phone, fuel, educational resources and play items etc and the rising cost of those things also increase a business expenses from year to year. It’s a behind the scenes struggle for all families, child care providers included. Don’t forget about personal and business taxes, insurance as well as a business license to operate.

Let's break this down. I charge a minimum of $750/month per child full time. By minimum I mean it can vary by the child’s need such as special needs and hours in care. Now, I consider anything over 65-70 hours to be full time. I often hear "it's only 3 days a week so I need part time". Okay, but you want your child in care for 8-10 hours a day, three days a week which makes 96-120 hours a month. This is full time. Full or part time is not determined by days, it is determined by hours. I may have a child in my care five days a week but only 5-6 hours a day, this equals the same amount of hours and should be paid equally.

You as the parent work say 8 hours a day at $20 an hour. If your boss asked you to take on more work or stay longer, you would still expect to be properly compensated for it correct? Say I have your child 9 hours a day (include your travel time to and from work) and do you want to know what I make an hour? $4-$6 an hour. Yes, that's correct, literally nearly triple under the Alberta minimum wage. Would you work for that amount per hour? Of course not. Could you make ends meet on that pay? Not likely. Assuming you only have one job and comfortably pay the bills, I require a minimum of 4 children to do the same in my home which essentially works out to be four jobs as I am hired by individual families and I typically work 45-50 hours a week. I also run two other small businesses for extra income. I don't get much free time.

I am a single income household, have rent and bills with a larger grocery bill, more frequent gas bill for the vehicle and anything I treat your child to on top of that. And don't forget the vehicle payment as that vehicle was required to be able to transport your child to school. And this is not worth $750 a month?

I once had two different, two income families need full time care for two children. When I take in siblings, I generously deduct $50 a month. One family would have been in care about 180 hours a month, the second would have been in care up to double the hours other kids usually are due to the line of work and the children might often need to stay longer. Around 240 hours a month, this is $6 an hour. Neither requiring subsidy. For both families, they say this is too high.

A third family also decided to look elsewhere because mom insists her 3 days a week should only be part time. If I were to go that route, charge my part time rate for 120 hours a month, I now make under $3 an hour. That's your daily coffee on our way to work. Everyone wants good care for their children but I guess child care providers are out of their mind to ask for good money to do it.

Say your child is in care that 180-240 hours a month but another child is in care only 70 hours a month. Do you think it is fair to pay the same rate as that family? If you were the family at 70 hours a month and knew someone was in care triple or more those hours and paid the same rate, would it bother you?

Consider this. The average vehicle repair bill can be upwards of $1000 with parts and labour, depending on what is needed. An average electrician costs around $50-$100 an hour so your bill could easily end up being $750 in a day depending on the job, an average plumber is $45-$150 an hour. Want your rooms professionally painted? You're looking at an average of $300-$400+ per room + paint and supplies. All these things cost in supplies but also TIME and when someone needs to hire one of these professionals, they often don't bat an eye at the cost because they value the work. Where is the value in child care?

If you want your child care provider to be around to see your children to school and beyond, it’s wise to do what you can to see that she receives job satisfaction from you too.

I also understand that many of these families receive child tax payments from the government every three months (in my province), money which is intended to go towards anything that child needs. Is child care not a need so that you can work to continue to provide for your child?

Now don’t get me wrong, I see and understand the other side of it with the families or single parent’s that simply cannot afford child care and don’t receive child tax, it happens. Most of the situations I am referring to, this would not be the case and I am hearing they think my rates are too high, not simply unaffordable.

All I am saying, is that our line of work is highly over expected and highly underpaid and under appreciated. Like your position as a nurse, a secretary, a delivery person, a lawyer, a doctor, a police officer etc, child care provider is a real job and deserves real pay.

Agree or disagree?

© 2017 unawaretoaware

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