City-run day care as an economic development essential?

Twice in the last few days- my idea from 1993 for City-run day care as an economic development tool have popped up- once when Christopher Gardner said that the cost of child care was the biggest issue in breaking out of homelessness- and then when I see Dr. Percy Mack, Superintendent of the Dayton Public Schools- crying out for better preschool:

Superintendent urges funding for better preschools
DAYTON — Up to $5 million a year should be committed to improving preschool to get far more children ready to start school by kindergarten, City schools Superintendent Percy Mack said Tuesday.

More than half that amount is available in state and federal grants but the city cannot access it because it lacks an infrastructure for programs that could improve preschool instruction, he told a joint meeting of the school board and City Commission.

Mack said a recent study by the Montgomery County Family and Children First Council showed 80 percent of new kindergarten pupils in the city are not school-ready when they arrive. The countywide figure is 67 percent.

That means they don’t know the most basic things a 5-year-old should know — the alphabet, their names, how to repeat a sentence they’ve been told. The test the city uses to assess readiness has 29 questions; 19 correct are required to pass. Mack said some pupils in the district get no questions right.

“We must make a turnaround,” he said. “If they are behind when they start, they don’t catch up.”

Children are behind, the study showed, because too few child care providers offer academically enriching care.

“Many of our child care providers are not certified,” Mack said. “They are aunts and sisters and friends who are keeping four or five kids who are eating, sleeping and playing all day. There is no academic work or social development going on.”

Parents also don’t always know that it is vital for learning to take place during day care or what makes a quality preschool program.

“If the kids are safe at the end of the day and they can take them home, they think the day care people did their job,” Mack said. “Folks, that’s not enough.”

To combat these problems, Mack said the county needs a system to monitor and promote preschool. Child care centers should get report card ratings based on standards just like schools to help parents make good choices, he said. The county also needs an awareness campaign and a resource center to help parents make good choices. With $420,000 spent over the next 16 months, Mack said the county could receive $2.8 million in annual funding for the program by 2010.

Mayor Rhine McLin said she supports the idea of improved early childhood education but the city is not in a position to provide money.

Here is what I said on my campaign literature way back when:

HOW SUBSIDIZED DAY CARE WILL CREATE TAX REVENUE
Jobs aren’t coming here because our effective tax rate is one of the highest in the state. We don’t offer any thing that makes it more affordable to do business in the City. What we have is a surplus of single parent workers, ready to work if they had great affordable childcare. Besides health care costs, day care is the second toughest obstacle for many employers. We can fix that, and create a win-win situation in Dayton.
The subsidy would be based on a formula of your income level, residency and where you worked. If you live and work in the city and make less than $25,000 a year you would pay less than an hour’s pay per week per child. If you only lived or worked in the city, you would pay twice the above.
High quality, available, subsidized day care will be an incentive for new business to locate here, and for dual wage earner families to return to the city. This means more tax dollars, and more jobs.

Not much has changed since then- our tax rate is still high, we still have a surplus of single parent workers, and we don’t have a compelling point of why it is better to do business in the city.

Anybody out there have a better idea?

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22 Responses

  1. D. Greene September 14, 2007 / 10:42 am
    A city worker is about the last person in the world I would entrust my child to. Nice idea tho.

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  2. Drexel Dave September 15, 2007 / 7:58 am
    Considering that they would most likely have twice the oversight and all of the required state licenses, I wouldn’t have a problem.

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  3. Drexel Dave September 15, 2007 / 8:01 am
    In fact, if people are REALLY worried about who watches their children, they would avoid family members, as the vast majority of abuse, neglect and molestation happens by another family member.

    Time to put an X on the family reunion this year.

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  4. D. Greene September 15, 2007 / 10:31 am
    Sorry for poo-pooing the idea right off the bat, but I think it captures the visceral reaction many have.

    And what of all the taxpayers in Dayton that do not have children? Esrati himself said one of the biggests things keeping businesses out is the taxes (not just the rates themselves but the whole structure) – why don’t we just lower taxes a bit and try to cut some waste out of the City Government?

    For example, the Downtown Dayton Partnership has paid all this money to spiff out an F-150 and send a guy around with a power washer spraying the streets. I was eating a delicious italian/cuban combination sandwich at 5th street Deli one day at lunch and I saw a DDP employee spraying down the street across from me. He spent 20 minutes on a 10 foot stretch of sidewalk and spent the rest of his time flirting with girls that were walking around. This makes me really happy because my family owns businesses inside the DDP zone and are forced to pay over $20,000 a year to this bullshit and they get no return to speak of. For a locally owned company that employs maybe ten people, $20,000 is a very substantial amount of cash.

    Oh, and Esrati, what do you think about using this template/design package to start an online, alternative news site for Dayton?

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  5. D. Greene September 15, 2007 / 10:35 am
    Disclaimer: I have no affiliation or financial interest in the template I linked to, I just saw it online a minute ago and thought it would be a good idea to do an online newspaper that consistently points to the good things going on in Dayton.

    Besides, we’d get better PageRank than the Dayton Daily News after a while I bet.

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  6. Karen E. September 15, 2007 / 12:31 pm
    Day Care is not a simple service to provide. The question I would rather someone answered is how can the city support and develop the quality daycare providers that already exist. How can we connect the people who know the business of daycare and early childhood education with those who need the service but cannot afford it? Rather than create a new system, can we figure out how to make the existing services work for more people?

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  7. David Esrati September 15, 2007 / 4:11 pm

    Day care isn’t any harder than schools- but schools without early childhood development are a lot harder (just to head off the people who will immediately say well look how bad the DPS are).
    Sinclair could be the training ground for child care providers- and we could also add child care to the DPS curriculum, forcing all girls over age 12 to have to spend time taking care of kids- so they realize how much work it is before they decide to have one of their own.
    The cold hard reality is- if you make minimum wage- you can’t pay someone else minimum wage to watch your kids. Even the middle class ends up spending a ton on child care- and this could be a competitive advantage for Dayton to recruit residents- and jobs.

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  8. Zak September 23, 2007 / 9:24 am
    Bigger question: is there a way to both provide childcare and also build community? I’d like to see some way to, for instance, hire a person living in an apartment complex to provide childcare for the others in the same apartment complex. This gives the children a bit more stability, as they’re watched in the same place that they live, more or less, and also helps to build community as the children are used to playing with each other already plus then all of the parents in that same complex will have to run into each other when picking up their kids.

    Right now, childcare provides no real benefit to community, as people are choosing the cheapest childcare they can find and thus sometimes end up driving a considerable distance and/or taking the buses even earlier in the morning to get their children taken somewhere (and thus being more stressed at work and more likely to be too burned out to take care of their kids after work), only to run into people they’ll never see in regular life and drop their children off with other children that they’ll never be able to play with during the hours that mom/pop are off work.

    Perhaps, as incentive, the government could give housing credits for the childcare workers to stay in the areas that they already live (as opposed to moving out of their home communities when their opportunities improve) so as to retain that community feel as well. Perhaps provide additional benefits for those childcare workers who are willing to take on the additional strain of running an after-school type program to add the additional stability of environment for the kids as well as more-or-less creating a “Little Brothers / Little Sisters” program to have the older kids help watch over the littler ones. This will then help keep the community over the different age groups, hopefully branch into tutoring things as well (sixth-graders helping third-graders with math homework, for instance) and perhaps even create better business associations later on as well.

    Sorry, I’m longwinded.

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  9. venessa February 7, 2008 / 2:15 pm
    Forcing all GIRLS to spend time with children? How sexist is that? You do realize that it takes TWO people to procreate.

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  10. David Esrati February 7, 2008 / 2:28 pm

    Venessa- yes I do realize it takes two to procreate- but, only one ends up with it inside for 9 months- goes through birth- and generally ends up with the responsibility.

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  11. gene February 7, 2008 / 3:13 pm
    it is really more like 10 months

    how about not having sex until you are financially and emotionally ready?

    we don’t want to tell the truth though, it might hurt someones feelings.

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  12. venessa February 12, 2008 / 9:12 am
    You can change who “ends up with the responsibility” by including young men in the conversation and enforcing the laws, rather than preserving the status quo by excluding them. That only reinforces the idea that young men get a pass when they act irresponsibly. We need to start raising real men who take at least minimal responsibility for their families.

    I am not trying to be combative, really. But have you spent much time with low-income girls? They often spend a great deal of time taking care of younger siblings and nieces and nephews. And the neighbor kids and their friends’ babies. They fully understand what happens when they have children of their own. And often they live in extended family units, with mothers and grandmothers helping to take care of the whole lot.

    Generally, with the girls I know who have become pregnant, it is not seen as a big deal to them or their families and that doesn’t change much once they are changing diapers. In fact, many girls become pregnant on purpose to “claim” their boyfriend, whom they love and are proud of (though it doesn’t seem to be reciprocated, since that wouldn’t be “manly”), which goes back to the points I made in my first paragraph about changing the rhetoric. This aspect of teen pregnancy is what makes the problem so hard to solve and was the hardest thing for me to come to grips with when I began working with urban youth. But at some point, you need to stop judging and start working with them as opposed to against them. You just won’t get anywhere otherwise.

    I am curious about your goal. Do you want to end teen pregnancy or minimize teen pregnancy and hope that girls who do become pregnant can continue their education and be successful in their careers and their parenting? Because the first is unlikely to ever happen. The second could be accomplished for at least some teens with comprehensive sex education, changing the culture that encourages young men to be predatory (trying to rack up as many sexual partners as possible and impregnating girls along the way), and ensuring proper support for those teens who do become pregnant. Like your day care scheme, for instance. Day care costs, as you said, are too expensive for women who work minimum wage jobs (or even twice minimum wage) or who attend college.

    As I said, I am not intending to be combative. Just trying to be helpful and point out some aspects of this issue that you may not be aware of.

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  13. David Esrati February 12, 2008 / 9:50 am

    Venessa,
    at least we agree that child care costs are prohibitive of being a member of the workforce? Right?
    I think sex ed is absolutely needed.
    I don’t have a problem with having young men doing child care- although there has to be a screening process or more supervision (reality).

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  14. gene February 12, 2008 / 10:44 am
    I can not believe people accept this form of behavior.

    IT KILLS BABIES, IT HURTS MOTHERS, IT FUELS POVERTY, IT DESTOYS EDUCATION, IT PROMOTES CRIME.

    These are things we want and need to solve, and by having a child when you are not emotionally or financially ready is putting an unnecessary burden on mom and dad, baby to be, the rest of the family, government agencies and tax payers. We need to grow up and grow some balls and start making people feel guilty when they chose to put a child a risk of DEATH, but then again all of these readers really don’t care about babies dieing, they care about not hurting people’s feelings. The truth sucks.

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  15. David Esrati February 12, 2008 / 10:52 am

    Please ignore Gene- he’s not very clear or coherent today.

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  16. gene February 12, 2008 / 11:39 am
    You are right David, it is hard to understand the death of babies bc we are afraid to tell young people to wait until they are ready. You rather see people hurt, I want to stop this before it happens.

    Maybe re-read it again. and then maybe you can grow up. If you are going to be a politician this is the question I want answered.

    Why do we ignore this problem? Why are you taking MY TAX DOLLARS and giving it to people who want to act irresponsible?

    I believe in helping people, but I also believe WE need to tell people what is expected of them. I think we need to tell kids to wait or there will be consequences. You don’t want to be hard on them, I do. BC if we are not hard on them then they will have babies who will die or be underfeed, increase in poverty, crime and help in the decline of education, etc.

    Why is this hard to understand, Mr. Statesman? If you can not take a stand against MORE BABIES which leads to more crime, poverty and a continued fracturing of our educational system then why the hell would I vote for you? I think you need to take a stand rather than saying I should be ignored. Mr. Statesman, Mr. ALL Important, why do you want more kids to die? bc that is the result of “being nice” and “not telling the truth” and “not wanting to hurt someones feelings.” Having unwanted and unplanned babies by girls that are way too young and way too poor and way too emotionally unstable is a very very bad thing. It needs to stop.

    Once again this will be ignored by the left.

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  17. David Esrati February 12, 2008 / 1:02 pm

    Gene-
    once again- you’ve twisted this from an issue of subsidized daycare for working parents- any age, to just teen pregnancy.
    Please re-read the original post.
    This HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH TEEN PREGNANCY- it had to do with head start and child care.

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  18. gene February 12, 2008 / 2:05 pm
    “Generally, with the girls I know who have become pregnant, it is not seen as a big deal to them or their families and that doesn’t change much once they are changing diapers. In fact, many girls become pregnant on purpose to “claim” their boyfriend, whom they love and are proud of ……….” – THIS WAS ANOTHER BLOGGERS COMMENTS

    David, master of life, I was commenting on ANOTHER comments, OMG, people do this on occasion.

    Wait! Wait! there it is – a comment in regards to another comment…..OMG, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s…………

    Amazing when the host blames me for going off topic but fails to re-read everyone elses posts. And this is our new leader – good luck.

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  19. gene February 12, 2008 / 2:13 pm
    These are your words David:

    “Imagine an election without this kind of emotional manipulation, one based on ideas, credibility, responsibility, accountability and that didn’t cost 2 billion dollars.”

    Now just substitute the words “LIFE” or “CHILD BIRTH and RAISING A CHILD” or “PERSON”

    for ELECTION………

    Why is it you want utopia out of an election but are unwilling to put such stipulations on other aspects of this world?

    Why do you not hold people responsible in regards to having kids when they are teenagers? or when they are 27 and poor and emotionally not ready and put babies in microwaves?

    This is not only a teenage issue – rather an issue of accountability, responsibility, credibility………..

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  20. Pam February 12, 2008 / 3:57 pm
    “How about not having sex until you are financially and emotionally ready?”

    Sorry Gene. You can’t legislate human physiology.
    Like it or not, we’re wired to do it regardless of our incomes, our maturity levels, or the stability of our relationships. It’s one of the ways nature ensures the continuation of the species.

    And who’s to say who is financially or emotionally ready enough? You?

    Since that approach has obvious flaws, how about this…how about using your tax dollars to educate young people about their bodies? I don’t care if you tell them that abstinence is ONE option, but you also have to tell them that it’s not the ONLY option. Tell them about ALL those other options (including Plan B), and then make those options affordable and readily available to the people who need them.

    Then people might act more responsibly, and no one’s feelings would get hurt… well, except for the religious zealots who think it’s their god-given right to tell other people what to do with their bodies.

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  21. gene February 12, 2008 / 4:46 pm
    And we will keep watching babies die bc our leaders are wimps……..

    I do believe in education, I also believe that being a hard ass on this subject benefits EVERYONE, not just the poor or the rich, not just girls or boys, but everyone.

    Keep hand holding as we watch poverty grow and illiterate kids run around on the streets with guns. Watch more people die. Your way fixes nothing.

    My approach may have flaws – your approach continues death, poverty and crime. You are right……soooooooo right.

    BTW — Pam — Kids will never be financially or emotionally ready, so let start with that. And, yes, I should be the one who decides. Thank You.

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  22. Pam February 12, 2008 / 6:45 pm
    “Your way fixes nothing.”

    I don’t know, Gene… doing it my way kept ME from having a kid until I was 30, married, financially stable, and a couple of classes away from a Master’s degree.

    That’s how you think everyone should be before they reproduce, right?

    Well, I can almost guarantee you that I would NOT have had the same happy outcome if my high school had today’s pathetic abstinence-only sex ed. curriculum— or if I had parents who preached being “good” instead of being careful.

    It’s not about holding anyone’s hand… it’s about getting your head out of your ass and realizing that most teens aren’t going to stay at the hand-holding stage, no matter what you say. If you want to avert a disaster, you have to give them the tools they need to protect themselves.

    By the way, thanks for stepping up and offering to put the EUGENE in EUGENICS. But in case you haven’t heard, fascism doesn’t fix anything either—so I don’t think we’ll be needing your services.

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