Will my day care judge me?

We need to work on our child care situation.

This is something that I have been putting off because I really don’t have much to tell the workers in regards to age or timing.  Since we also need want a place that takes the day care subsidy, it limits our options.  But we needed to eliminate some day care centers from our list, at minimum, so we have some vetted options to choose from when it’s time.

The first thing I did was find a list of day care centers in the areas surrounding my house that took infants (under 2 years of age) and  day care subsidies using the Texas Child Care Search website.  The great thing about this website is it shows you all the results of the safety audits and how/if/when they fixed the issue.  Texas provides a LOT of information on-line.

So.  This subsidy thing.  The first facility I called let me know that she did take the subsidy but only a limited number of children.  According to her, the state only paid $164/week and she charged $200/week for infant care.  Additionally, they were often delayed and didn’t pay on time which negatively affects her cash flow.  She has 20 children and therefore can only take a maximum of 4 subsidies before it interferes with her taking care of her overhead, including salaries.  We talked a bit if she would be willing to take the subsidy if I paid the overage.  She seemed amenable to that option but I honestly have no idea of whether this is an approved practice.  The second day care had no concerns with taking the subsidy and didn’t have any limitations on number.  It may be because they only charge $140/week for an infant and so the subsidy takes care of all their costs.

As I reflected back on those conversations, I realized that I never mentioned foster care.  I told the facilities that my husband and I were adopting a child that would be no more than 2 years old.  I went through all my questions about number of children, ratio of workers, environment, curriculum and even pricing before I asked if they took the day care subsidy.  I created a rapport with each woman, trading stories about my time in a home child care center and discussing what I was really looking for.  And I never mentioned that I was in process  of becoming a foster parent or that the child that was the focus of discussion would be a foster child.

Why not?

I realize that the greater community has a negative view of foster parents and foster children and truth be told, I’ve absorbed many of those external signals. In the media, foster parents are low class, unclean, mean and focused on collecting children for more money.   And foster children are BAD.   They come with extreme behaviors that can’t be control.  They are traumatized and disrupted.  And since they live with those dirty foster parents, they are also unkempt.

Now I know from reading blogs and attending foster care support groups that this isn’t true.  But I sure worked hard on those phone calls to make sure that I wasn’t pegged as one.  I didn’t want those day care fold judging me or my child before even meeting us.

But that ain’t right.

In order to change the stigma against foster care, it is important that people like me and the other parents I know to be forthcoming and open about what we are doing that others can see the full spectrum of who foster parents are.  That might be easier said then done.  Because every time I boldly declare myself, I’ll also be telling my child’s story – that her parents weren’t able to take care of her.

*shrug*  Anyone else have these thoughts or am I thinking way too much?

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