We Are Not Babysitters: Family Childcare Providers Redefine Work and Care

We Are Not Babysitters: Family Childcare Providers Redefine Work and Care

We Are Not Babysitters: Family Childcare Providers Redefine Work and Care

We Are Not Babysitters: Family Childcare Providers Redefine Work and Care

Synopsis

An examination of the reasons why women become paid childcare providers.

Excerpt

On a gray and cloudy morning, I head north on Interstate 5 toward Seattle. I take the Yesler Way exit and drive east toward the central district. The street passes rental units, housing projects, and storefront businesses. Men gather in clusters of three and four near the storefronts—some just opened for business, some clearly closed permanently. I approach a major intersection, turn left, and pull up to the curb at my destination—the home of Sharon Fleming. The house, like others on the block, is a large two-story and looks like it was built in the 1930s or 1940s. The yard, like those of the houses that line the street, is tiny. What distinguishes this house from the others nearby is the sandwich-board sign in the front yard. It reads, “Small Friends Family Child Care.”

How did I, a woman in my late forties with no children of my own end up on the front porch of a family child care home? My journey to Sharon Fleming's family child care home actually began a decade earlier, when I served as a policy analyst for the Washington State Legislature's Comparable Worth Committee. The committee explored issues of gender discrimination in employment, particularly the lower wages assigned to sex-segregated jobs such as those held by secretaries, nursing assistants, and child care providers. As the committee completed its assigned task of making . . .

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