One of the many topics touched on with Mayor Pro Tem Red Byboth last night was that he thought I was attempting to provide preferential treatment to home daycares over licensed daycares, when I spoke at the home-based business workshop last October. I suppose council would have had to understand my history in order to see why that was a sticking point with me.
Mr. Byboth and I discussed several aspects of this topic, one being that parents need to take more responsibility in the care of their children, another being that we shouldn’t give preferential treatment to a home business that is not paying taxes because it chapped Red’s hide that a home-based daycare can write off 100% use of their home and not pay taxes. My response to this statement (today now that the tequila is no longer talking) is that they do pay taxes, they pay sales tax every time they spend their earnings locally for supplies and toys at the big box stores or even other local stores. What I suggested to my new playmate Red last night, is that home daycares offer the parents a service and a certain quality of life in the community. Though I can see both sides of this argument, let me explain my passion for home-based daycares a little more.
From the time my son was born, I had him in a home daycare. One day during nap, my son stopped breathing. She was there, she witnessed it, she dialed 911, and performed mouth to mouth until the ambulance came. My son survived, thankfully. Had he been in a daycare setting, I am convinced the caregiver would not have been sitting there close enough to the sleeping babies in order to actually see him go into convulsions and turn blue. At a daycare center, she would have been working about the room, cleaning or disinfecting according to many of the center’s policies during nap time.
When my son was 2 ½, that goddess of a caregiver no longer took toddlers and it was time to move on, sadly. I located a daycare, and after three weeks in their care, I came home from work to find my son, in stocking feet, down at the end of the street. Now is the perfect time to close your eyes and visualize momma bear coming out swinging, with claws extended and teeth bared. Suffice to say, I reported it to licensing.
I moved my sons to other centers with a perpetual revolving door of caregivers. My son swallowed a rock on the playground when he was 4, and I mean a rock, because we have the x-ray to prove it. The center was more afraid of admitting he was unsupervised than they were about whether he would pass it safely or not. Let’s not bother worrying about the fact it could have blocked his airway. Sure, licensing shows up every so often to check the centers out, but with a well-crafted tour, all manner of sins can be covered up. Gee, let me open and hold this broken door for the inspector so they don’t notice the latch is broken and it slams hard enough to dismember a child. Here, look at this while I stand with my back covering up something you don’t want to see. The state of daycare, for the most part, is in a shambles and though there are some good centers out there, home caregivers can offer a smaller group setting and more hands-on interaction with the children and it is often a preferred option for parents with infants and toddlers.
I decided to make researching the system a priority so I could find out what was really going on in order to write a book about my experiences. The more I researched, the more I discovered things that absolutely disgusted me. I also discovered that writing this book would not correct the problem. It starts at the state licensing level. I suppose fate stepped in and after 9/11 I was laid off from work and decided I would make the sacrifice to be home with my kids. The book was put on hold, but the idea was not.
Rather than deal with the issue of changing ordinances that govern home-daycares, P&Z and ultimately the council took the woosie way out and simply made all home-based daycares exempt. I certainly never asked for them to be exempt when I made my argument, I simply asked for them to do a little research on the topic to see how their ordinance changes could put someone out of business, perhaps even cause them to lose their home, and eventually give citizens less options available to them. We certainly want to earn taxes on a business, but we should also want to provide a certain quality of life to the citizens as well. Win, win.
Instead, I was accosted after the meeting, of which I made complaints about which fell on deaf ears, and games were played. Rather than open up a line of communication, the offense was purposely dropped on the floor and swept under the carpet. I blame the mayor for the disgusting spectacle that has taken place since then. As the perceived leader of the city, his job should be to make decisions with passion and conviction, not to placate everyone he comes across and then jump the train going the other way. This sort of posturing and vindictiveness serves no one. You will be hard pressed to find a 6/1 council vote with mayor playing on the opposing team. This practice of swinging to the majority makes voting an absolute joke. This is also why game-playing never works, because ultimately everyone loses.
Stop the games, stop the hate. Check your egos at the door and play nice with each other. Roll up your sleeves, and get to work. Pretty simple, but it seems insurmountable for a band of seven at the moment.