Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Valuing the family??

How much does our society truly value and promote the family structure?

I've been trying to fill out paperwork for the state to show we are not a daycare provider. We need this exemption in order for us to receive free snacks for the children.

I don't think we are going to qualify.

Their rules don't match with what what our program is about:

1) The program will not collect compensation for its services.

2) Children participating in the activities are free to join or leave the program at will. If the program provides transportation from school, children may choose whether to use the transportation from school and when to leave the program and walk home without adult supervision.

3) The program must require all parents to sign a statement allowing their children to come and go at will from the program.

Although I'm not opposed to organizations who don't collect any compensation, we do. We only charge $5/month, which is extremely minimal compared to what we provide. Quality after-school care costs money. We want to provide that quality and we want parents to feel they are putting their child somewhere that is worth paying money for. Although their financial commitment seems minimal, the percentage and amount of their income makes it just as significant as wealthier people paying good money for their children to have extracurricular programs. Free often implies that people must accept and be grateful for what they are given. Because our parents are financially committed, they have a right to complain if they want but, more importantly, their commitment and our conversations with them allow them to shape the direction of the program.

The second and third rule are particularly disturbing to me. I can't imagine wanting my child to be a part of a program where I have to sign a paper saying my 5-13 year old child can decide whether or not s/he goes home without adult supervision. Our program is a place parents can enroll their child and *know* that s/he won't be running the streets when mom isn't looking. If enrolled children don't ride the van from school, we talk to the parents. This assures us and the parents that their child's safety is primary to us. By coming straight to the program, we (and the parents) know that their child will get his/her homework done along with the support s/he needs. For a parent who is working, this provides a feeling of comfort. For a parent who may not seem concerned about their child's whereabouts, this allows us to initiate conversations with the parent and build a relationship that has often developed a heightened awareness of their child's activities.

Because of our contradicting "rules," I'm not sure if we will receive the free snacks.

Regardless...

I know what we offer to the parents is a valuable service that isn't available financially or in proximity. I know I have no desire to compromise our commitment and assurance to the families that we will provide a safe, supervised, educational place for their children and will not release them unless the parent/guardian says it is ok.
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