Even if the center staff sincerely desires to get the parents involved, this is often difficult. Parents have to allocate scarce time and energy to this activity. They have to find baby-sitters and transportation for evening meetings.
7. There is a growing interest in developing clay care for special groups: emotionally disturbed children, mentally handicapped children, and children of migrant workers. The care of such children requires special equipment and personnel with special training who are willing to devote extra time and energy, to the children. Such day-care centers also make an explicit effort to involve the parents so that the training and/or the therapy achieved in the center is sustained and supported by the parents in the home. The National Association for Retarded Children has been very active and successful in extending day-care services to such children.
Day care is a supplementary service designed to provide care for the child during the part of the day when the mother is unavailable. Day care, concerned first with the care and the protection of the child, is distinguished from nursery School, which has a more explicit educational focus.
There are two principal kinds of day care: group day care and day care offered in the family-day-care home. Family day care is the more appropriate resource for the child younger than two years old.
Day care is an appropriate resource for the child whose mother is working, for the handicapped child who does not need institutionalization, for the child living in a deprived environment, and in cases of parent-child conflict when the parent needs some relief from care of the child.
In reality, day care is used most frequently to care for the child of the working mother. The problem of day care is thus closely related to the problem of the working mother. The trend is toward an increase in the number of working, mothers. This trend is related to (1) a change in the family from a producing to a consuming unit; (2) the family need for a cash income; (3) changes in the nature of the jobs available; and (4) changes in the life cycle of the family.
In 1977 there were about 6.4 million children under six years of age whose mothers were employed. The probability that a woman will work is related to the age of her children, the presence of a husband in the home, and the level of the husband's earnings.
But despite the sharp increase in the number of working mothers, only a limited number of day-care center places were available: about 900,000 in 1978. Most often, children of working mothers were cared for in their own home by the father or by older siblings. Thus, a small percentage of the children six years of age or under of working mothers were cared for in formal day-care arrangements.
Social workers form part of the day-care-center team, which includes teachers and health personnel as well. Social workers help to prepare the child and the family for the movement into day care, help them with the social and emotional consequences of the use of day care, and act as the liaison between the family and the child in the center.
Problems related to day care include: