Usually, I would write an article that I hope would be uplifting for some, today though I want you to feel enraged, I want you to feel this rage in every part of your being because it matters, it matters a lot.
A few weeks ago now there was an interesting opinion piece in the New Zealand Herald. It stirred outrage across social media within hours of the piece going live. The phrases “mothers guilt” and “you are shaming us” were thrown about and the anger and abuse towards the woman who wrote the article was insidious.
The thing is, I don’t think people read the article for what it was, I think people fell into the trap of reading it after it had been crucified by critics, so they missed the important message, which was about the care of our children. Now that all the hostility towards the author has died down, I think it’s time we go back and read that article for what it was. (Read it here)
As we know in this day and age many families have both parents working either part time or full time. To clarify I am currently a stay at home mum, I wasn’t always and I do understand the toll work takes on parents everyday lives and most of the time you are just hanging in there. However just because things have got to a stage where many families have to work just to keep their families afloat, does not mean that we should have to put our children into substandard care.
What is best for business is not always best for our children. To put it bluntly, someone is taking advantage of us (Parents and our Children). They are taking advantage of the workload and obligations of modern-day parenting. They take advantage of the fact that many of us don’t have families surrounding us and supporting us. They take advantage of funky ‘on trend’ aesthetics to lure us in. They take advantage of marketing techniques to hook us. They take advantage of our personal wellbeing, our mental health and make us think that sending our children to their childcare centre will make them more successful in life.
Currently, in Napier, a new daycare centre is under construction. There has been a rumor for a few years now that this centre was to be built on this small, southern facing old pub site. Recently there were posts on a local Facebook page that prompted me to check out this new site. The new centre is owned by a group which are listed on the stock exchange. The net profit for this group in the year ending March 2018 was 12 Million Dollars.
How you ask can childcare centres funded by parents and the government make enough money to be listed on the stock exchange? The way childcare centres can make huge profits is by having maximum numbers at minimum standards and if we refer back to Deborah Cone Hill’s article she quotes a businessman saying just that.
A businessman in the childcare sector confessed over a glass of wine, that his business is like farming chickens. You have the free-range ones (infants cared for in the home) who are well treated. And then you have the caged ones, to maximise profits.
When I visited the Napier childcare site, what upset me the most is the size of the outdoor area in ratio to the children that will be attending this centre and that this isn’t just a one-off. Popping up around the country are more and more centres that are being built at the minimum standards, or bought and having ratio standards minimized. More and more children are spending up to 10 hours a day, five days a week in spaces that most adults would find appalling.
On one hand, we have the professionals that are advocating for more free play, for less “be careful” parenting and more risky opportunities, less screen time and more green time. But on the other hand, we have business people who take full advantage of making money out of children with daycare centres built to just standards.
Current minimum standards in regards to space are.
- Indoor Activity area 2.5 M2 per child
- Outdoor Activity area 5 M2 per child
This information was taken from My ECE, you can read further minimum requirements here.
As the businessman says above, these minimum standards are a lot like factory farming chickens. Obviously caged hens are the losers in this situation with minimum standards being that they have a space roughly equal to the size of an A4 sheet of paper. However, doing a bit of reading about our best cared for chicken in New Zealand I was quite interested to read that.
**See full specs at the bottom of this page.
As the diagram shows above – Our well looked after SPCA Free Range chickens have more outdoor space to play in than the minimum requirements for our young children. Do you think that is acceptable?
Many of you may be thinking, well five metres square added up is actually a large space. I will give you an example of that space.
The photo above is the proposed space for 75 children. As you can see by the plans below this is the maximum number of children that this space is legally allowed to have.
I don’t even want to go into the fact that if we look from a child’s eye level all they would see is wooden walls all around them. (Remind you of something, maybe a season of Wentworth or Orange is the New Black)
Knowing these key standards now, I want you to ponder and ask yourself.
- How much outside space do your children have to play in?
- Do your children have nature in their play area, real grass, real plants, a tree to sit under?
- What can your child see (look from their eye level) do they see walls, or can they see outside those walls.
- Do your children have access to the outdoor play area at any time through the day?
- Do you think it’s okay for any child to be in spaces all day that only meet the minimum requirements?
It’s time we made some noise!
Because no child deserves to be cooped up in centres like this.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
*** Standards for free-range chickens.
- In New Zealand, our minimum standards for Free Range chickens is 2500 chickens in a space of 1 Hectare which is 10,000 M2
- 10,000 M2 devided by 2500 = 4 M2 per chicken
- The NZSPCA standard for a chicken is 350 chicken per acre. One acre is 4046.86 M2
- 4046.86 M2 dived by 350 chickens = 11.56 M2 per chicken.
Taken from Egg Farmer Organisation.