The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Children in day care:
"Family values" are for families with money

Apr 23, 2001

On April 18 researchers from the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development announced their findings in a study of 1100 children in day care. The children were found to have more "behavioral problems," including aggression, than children who spent under 10 hours per week in day care.

Once again, working mothers are submitted to a barrage of not very scientific comments, especially in the media, to make them feel guilty about how they raise their children. The majority of working class mothers with children MUST work; many of them –including the majority of black women –are single parents. For most parents, day care is a necessity, not an option.

But the problem is not day care as such. It's the way it's organized in a society ruled by profit. Day care in the United States is a business like any other, in which large and small entrepreneurs hope to make a buck by paying the lowest possible wages for the greatest amount of work.

Many day care workers earn little above minimum wage; many have little education or training in handling small children in groups. Most have too many children and/or too little equipment.

Yet when children of better-off parents are studied, the same results don't show up. The benefits of day care then are better socialization skills and greater intellectual development. But this kind of day care is for the wealthy children –requires more money.

A study like the one just done hides the class nature of day care, like all institutions affecting children. Children of richer families get good day care, children of working class families get poor day care.

It is possible to set up decent day care in this country. It is possible to make day care available at work places and to have the bosses pay when parents need to take time out to be with their children.

But in a society which shows more concern for raising the bosses' profits than for raising children, this will never be done voluntarily, out of the goodness of the capitalists' hearts.

Those who are concerned –that means all of us, for we all have a responsibility for the next generation –have to insist on it, in the only language the bosses understand: a forceful one.