Minor Thoughts from me to you

Progressively Regressive Child Care in Dane County

The Capital Times published an article on the shortage of child day care in Dane County. It's not until the 11th paragraph that they finally reveal that the state government is to blame.

The primary reason it's so hard to find care for infants is because of a state mandated caregiver-child ratio that requires one provider for every four babies or toddlers under age 2. Ratios increase according to the age of the child. For example, the ratio is 1 caregiver for every 13 children for 4- and 5-year-olds. So, the staffing costs for infants can be more than triple what they are for older children.

Most child care centers don't offer infant care, in part because of financial reasons. "Not to sound cold, but they don't make money on infants because the ratio is so small," says Jody Bartnick, the executive director of Community Coordinated Child Care, a children's advocacy organization commonly referred to as 4-C. Stricter regulations add costs, she said. Infant rooms require their own sink, their own refrigerator and other equipment.

And when those costs are passed on to consumers, they are significant for most household budgets.

4-C numbers show that the average weekly cost of infant care in Dane County as of March 2008 was $245 in a family child care center and $275 at a group center. For preschool care, the number drops to about $220 at both types of centers. At those rates, child care can cost between $11,000 and $14,000 a year -- compared with about $7,300 for in-state tuition at UW-Madison.

In the name of making day care safer, they've actually made day care nearly impossible to get. And, when you can get it, it's astronomically expensive. For an area that prides itself on its progressivism, this sounds pretty regressive to me.

Of course, they'll redeem themselves by attempting to raise my taxes so they can turn around and subsidize child care for someone else. The obvious solution -- deregulate the market -- would never occur to them.

You're doing a heckuva job, Jimmy Doyle.