A very brave Virginia Tech senior wrote an open letter to the University’s new president a couple of days ago echoing a sentiment that is felt all over town: there is a shortage of childcare options in town and the university should do something to become a part of the solution.
I am proud to say that the Executive Director of the school where my two youngest attend, and where I am lucky enough to serve as the Director of Nutrition, wrote a letter to the editor supporting this student and her call for a revolution in childcare. A slightly extended version is reproduced here, with permission from the author:
“I want to applaud Emily for her fearless letter to the Collegiate Times calling for a revolution in childcare. It touched me very personally and I couldn’t agree more.
In the few short years that I have been in Blacksburg, there is one this that I know to be true: there is a crisis of availability when it comes to childcare, especially for infants. And it’s not for lack of interest. Year after year surveys are distributed across campus soliciting faculty and staff input about the challenges they face, and repeatedly, “access to childcare” rises to the top of the list. What’s more, because of these limited options we – as a community – cannot engage in deeper conversations about expanding the type of care and educational opportunities that are available to parents.
I also believe that we need a revolution in childcare: one that places equal value on supporting children, families, and the providers that give care. Caring for our children’s caregivers ensures that our kids get the best care that they can. Like you, Emily, many childcare providers can’t even afford for their own children the care that they give to others. If the community and university can come together to innovate and lead this revolution then families, caregivers, and university administration will no longer be at odds with one another.
I am expanding a Montessori school in town. It has been a long and challenging road. Many doors have closed, and few have opened. But a handful of dedicated individuals and advocates have helped me make this vision a reality. And in a couple of weeks we will open our doors to the community and for the community.
I agree with your letter to President Sans, Emily, that what is needed is a more sustainable system of childcare and thoughtful attention to the early childhood education experience for everyone involved. And I know that together we can create one.”
A revolution in childcare. Imagine it. Imagine a revolution that brings together an entire community to rally around it’s most vulnerable citizens and cares as much about providing for them as it does the people who care for them. Imagine a revolution that see the child as a whole person – who needs more than just a set of eyes to watch over them, but rather needs a guide for how to be in the world; one that will engage his curiosities and interests, and support his learning in all matters intellectual, emotional, and social. A revolution that pays childcare providers a decent wage, and gives them benefits so they can afford the same high-quality care for their own children. imagine a revolution that teaches kids lifelong habits – around food, conflict resolution, and self-care – beginning when they are only babies.
Can you imagine that revolution? I can. And it’s amazing.