It’s clear that Alaska, like much of the nation, has a workforce shortage, and we desperately need more people to fill key positions in the private and public sectors.
It’s also apparent that the childcare industry, like most others, is suffering from staff shortages, which means there are fewer facilities to house kids while parents work.
The mission of Governor Mike Dunleavy’s new daycare task force seems to suggest that it would be better for families, and the health of Alaska’s workforce, if we marshal our collective resources – both public and private – to boost daycare capacity, thereby freeing more moms and dads from the responsibility of caring for their children during the working hours.
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The problem with this plan is twofold. First, many families have no interest in professional daycare workers overseeing the welfare of their children. Instead, they have chosen the traditional option of caring for their children in the home. It may mean less income for the family, but many parents believe this is well worth the sacrifice. These families would see zero benefit from expanded childcare centers, and yet they would likely share in the public cost of keeping them afloat.
Secondly, we should not uncritically pursue public policy that encourages or incentivizes parents to deposit their children into the hands of paid caretakers. There may be extraordinary cases when this is necessary, but children – especially young ones – are generally far better off when cared for by their own parents – learning their values, morals and family traditions. Nothing in Gov. Dunleavy’s announcement acknowledges this reality, and we find that deeply concerning.
The views expressed here are those of the author.