On Child Care Worker “Appreciation” Day, What We Really Need Is Action
When I needed child care for my family, there was none.
I didn’t want anyone else to feel so alone.
I am the mother of four children, one of whom has a chronic heart condition and one who has ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) level 1, which makes it a little trickier to find child care centers with the right expertise.
And even if that help was available, it wasn’t within my reach to pay for child care. For me, that was an unattainable luxury, and that’s why, ten years ago, I decided to dedicate myself to child care work, so that I could help families who are going through the same difficult situation that I was once in.
In other words, it was the struggle to find help for my own children that gave me the strength to help other children like them.
I am now a certified Early Childhood and Special Education teacher, working with children with ASD, ADHD, and other neurodevelopmental disorders. Through my work, I have realized the great need in my community for teachers with special education expertise. But I also know that this job takes a lot away from you, and requires a lot of strength.
Let me guide you through my typical workday, which starts at 5 a.m.
For thirteen hours, I am not just teaching students; I am playing, singing, dancing, and reading. I am cooking, dropping off and picking up the children from school, and making observations and evaluations of my class. And in addition to working with the children, I am in communication with their parents, while cleaning, attending work meetings, and completing paperwork for the day.
And when my day ends at 6 p.m., the work continues.
At home, I do my homework until around 8 p.m., tending to my kids and husband until I finally fall asleep (usually too tired to take off my earrings).
Because in addition to work, I was also in school.
I have a deep love and passion for my work, and I was excited by the opportunity to study and prepare myself professionally. In addition to the other responsibilities I already had, I graduated with honors, building upon the dreams I have for my career.
And yet, my salary does not increase as my skills and experience do.
Even so, however, I feel committed to giving my best to my profession for future generations. And for a while, everything was going well. That is, until I got a call from my son’s school.
In a terrible accident, he had been shot.
At that moment, my life changed completely.
Because of that moment, I could have lost everything.
After many long months of caring for my son in the hospital, I realized that I didn’t have enough support from my job or even my insurance to cover those expenses. And so, I had to spend my savings, which I had planned to use to expand my business.
At that moment, I wanted to throw in the towel.
But just like ten years ago, I drew on my strength, and now, I’m advocating stronger and harder than ever. Whether it’s higher salaries or better opportunities for all child care and disability care professionals, I want to make big changes that help my community.
And to my community: My advice is to never give up. No matter how difficult your situation, we can always start over and use our experience to help others.