Behind Day Care Doors

, Nicole Tigno, Leave a comment

In Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us, author Brian Robertson says that majority of parents, if given the choice, would not want their kids in commercial day care.

According to studies cited in the book, 85% of working mothers would rather stay at home if they had the financial ability to do so. Those who influence public policy however, think otherwise.

Increasingly in the last quarter century, public officials, day-care lobbyists and America’s leading corporations have crafted legislation that promotes the use of commercial day care, Robertson, a research fellow at the Family Research Council (FRC) writes. For example, both Democratic and Republican Congresses have consistently voted to increase federal tax write-offs for parents with children in formal day care. On the other hand, stay-at-home parents have seen no increase in tax deductions for their work in the home since the 1950s, Robertson, a fellow at FRC’s Center for Marriage and the Family, says.

Day Care Deception attempts to expose deliberate cover-ups by academics and government officials of valid research pointing out the detriments of “non-parental group care.” For instance, although day-care advocates routinely ignore such findings, medical experts have declared diseases such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) “disproportionately high” in day-care centers. Similarly, public health officials claim that more than 60% of all Hepatitis A cases among infants come from day-care centers. Additionally, children in day care account for 22% of chronic ear infections requiring surgery while 3% of kids who stay at home have the affliction.

On the other hand, social studies surveys show that increased self-confidence, creativity and leadership in early childhood ran parallel to a “consistently close parental connection.” Why then do these facts rarely come to the public light if at all? Robertson calls it a “conspiracy of silence.”

“Writers, editors and broadcast journalists who cover these issues are often themselves working mothers dependent on day care,” writes Robertson. This conflict of interest of working moms covering the day care-beat, however, is not something immediately apparent.

Day Care Deception is more than an exposé. The book is also a historical analysis of America’s booming day-care business, from the building of the first federally funded day-care center for female defense workers in 1941, to the $36-billion-dollar industry that it is today.

Although currently, when surveyed, more parents than child-care experts want the family set up of a stay-at-home parent, if the media and academics continue on a campaign to make day care a guilt-free option, parents may soon change their minds. Still, day-care lobbyists maintain that it is not parental child care per se they are against but early child education they are for.

Quality day care not automatically translating to quality child education was also illustrated in the book. For instance, well-intentioned attempts to set up a state-of-the-art day care facility nonetheless resulted in disturbing changes of behavior among the children.

“The problem was not our facility,” wrote the couple who wanted to offer “the best center-based care.” “It was obvious that there was a problem inherent in day care itself that hung like a dark storm over ‘good’ and ‘bad’ day-care centers alike.”

Though ultimately formal day care is never a substitute for parental care, not many know that there are “informal” day-care options such as relative care or care given by a family member or close friend. In order to give parents more options, Robertson proposes that tax breaks should be just as high for parents who choose to care for their children themselves or rely on relatives as they are for those who opt for commercial day care.

“Ultimately, (they) are arguing that a woman should not be a mother to her own baby, but a nursemaid to somebody else’s baby,” GK Chesterton wrote of the day-care advocates of the early 1900s. “We cannot all live by taking in each other’s washings, especially in the form of pinafores.”

Day Care Deception does not pretend to be a politically correct book. “The key element,” Robertson says, “in this cultural battle is the courage necessary to state the truth and get beyond the politically correct posturing that has so distorted the public discussion of child-care policy.” Day Care Deception
is a sterling example of such courage and one hopes it will inspire more to come.

Nicole Tigno is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C.