Childcare as a Means to Retain Teachers? Yes, Please
This is perhaps an older idea. I've heard it brought up before, but the recent EdWeek article about childcare at schools was framed in the context of the current teacher shortage problem. As a third-time dad, I can appreciate the problem of childcare. Before my wife and I moved to the Charlottesville area, we'd been able to get daycare for $500 a month. Now we're paying twice that. We lived only twenty miles away prior to our move. And the sad thing is, that what we pay is still less than many folks here in the States. Oh, and then in addition to the daycare, we have two after-school program enrollments for our other two kids. But I'm not writing to complain.
Instead, I'm thinking of how with our recent addition to our family, that my wife and I talked about how great it would be to stay home with the baby for a few years. Unfortunately, with both of us being educators, this isn't doable. But how great would it be to have the ability to go down the hall and check in with the little one(s) during a planning break, or to arrange a weekly lunch date? Way cool.
In the last few years, I've been seeing more and more first-time mothers opt for leaving their career to stay home. Granted, not everyone is eager to return to the classroom; however, there were a few conversations I've had with people expecting who were on the fence, and I think that if there had been a good arrangement, they may have stayed on. Free childcare that's only down the hall is an attractive idea.
Other things that could come from it:
- School community could be strengthened by connecting the families of the teachers closer to the school itself.
- Training/licensure programs could be held onsite for students, which could help with credit completion and job-readiness for graduation.
- While teen pregnancy rates are decreasing, it does still happen, and these young women could then still attend courses while their child is close by.
- If the program was free or charged a minimal enrollment fee, educators' money would go much further. (the main reason I left my old district was I couldn't afford to work there)
If this was a possibility for my family, I wouldn't be as worried about whether staying in a teacher capacity was the right decision for me or not. There are many other types of programs for teacher retention, for example, San Fransisco has some housing assistance programs; though, I don't know how helpful those would be given the exorbitant cost of living there. All the same, teaching is an intense career, and any ways in which a district can alleviate the stress that accompanies the profession (even for the best teachers) would prove a great way to retain and attract teachers.