The Cost of Quality Childcare
Recently, there’s been increased examination of the high cost of childcare in the U.S. by the media- from this New York Times article that's made headlines to this new U.S. Census Bureau report entitled Who's Minding the Kids?, there’s lots of chatter about the rising price- and lack of affordability- for quality early childhood care. The studies and stories in the press represent parents' need for safe, educational places for kids before they're school-aged, and the longterm benefits that early childhood care can have on the entire family. Yet it also demonstrates the risks when parents cannot secure this, and the issues associated with rising costs. While much of these reports focus on America, it remains highly relevant in Palestine and the work TYO pursues for children in the Middle East. In Palestine, for the last ten years, there has been a debate in our culture about whether or not it is necessary to send our children to preschool or daycare. There has been progress in the mentalities of some families that their children should attend preschool, but many other families still do not send their children to any kind of early childhood education.
Until now, all of these preschools and options for early care have not been funded by the government, and daycares are private. This means that parents have to put a special financial priority on sending their children to preschools. Because the cost is not easy for many families, many children were not able to have to the experience of preschool, which is a critical basis for their growth in the future.
Several years ago, TYO undertook extensive interviews with mothers from our past programs who live in the refugee camps and the Old City- and they reported that their incomes were around 1000 Shekels per month. Many of these mothers had an average of five children in their homes- and when it came to budgeting, prioritized feeding them sufficiently over sending them to private daycares or schools. We also found that some mothers sent their children to preschool not because they believed in the necessary foundation of early childhood education, but because they wanted their children out of the house.
In our program at TYO, which focuses on offering new opportunities to the next generation, we strive to offer early childhood education to the most disadvantaged groups. We hope that the government in Palestine will prioritize early childhood education in their agenda. Until now, early childhood programming does not rank on any politician’s agenda, which delays progress not only of schools but also delays the progress of Palestine and the next generation's readiness to become productive, well-equipped leaders.
Suhad Jabi Masri is TYO's Psychosocial Program Manager. In the above post, she writes about the rising costs of early childhood care in the West, and how it relates to Palestine.