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Letter: Running an in-home day care is complicated

I had to laugh and shake my head on this one. Child care in Minnesota is a bit complicated as it is everywhere in the United States. It is definitely costly to those parents who have jobs and need a reliable and trustworthy place to take their child, and it gets more expensive if they have two or three children. Employees who work at child care centers are often, unfortunately, paid minimum wage. The reason for this is strictly due to the myriad of overhead expenses that many people don’t realize. Such costs include rent, utilities and maintenance. Then, of course, there are the classroom materials, food and administrative costs that go along with it. Toys only last so long and, hey, what child doesn’t like a new fish aquarium with exotic fish to look at? So, on that note, let’s talk about the little person in the day care realm, and I’m not talking about the infant or toddler playing with the latest Melissa & Doug toy. The little person is one of the few who takes on the challenge of caring for several children in their own home. This little person is the in-home child care provider. Did I mention “in-home”? These children come to our homes, they play in our homes and they become a part of our homes. We don’t do our business in a shed, a back alley, a damp basement or out of our vehicles.

Furthermore, as an in-home day care provider in Albert Lea, I can assure you that I do not make $78,000 per year. This is where I had to re-read the letter “Don’t day care owners make a good living?” I surely do not get $1,300 per month, per child, as stated by Elizabeth Shockman on Minnesota’s Public Radio. In fact, I do not even get half of this per month, per child. Perhaps Ms. Elizabeth got Minnesota’s child care rates confused with Washington, D.C.’s rates, which happen to be the highest in the nation. In fact, after doing just five minutes of research online, I discovered that day care for a 4-year-old in Washington, D.C., will cost a parent $1,555 per month. Ouch! Again, this is in Washington, D.C., not Albert Lea. So after reading this figure, I am doubtful that the average Minnesota in-home day care provider earns $1,300 per month, per child. If so, I am surely doing something wrong! So, let’s just say I did earn $1,300 per month, per child, and I had five children total (which equals $78,000 per year). Is that all that much money? Day care providers have no retirement, no medical, no dental and pretty much no stability. As I’ve stated, I am by no means complaining about my well-being as an in-home child care provider. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t! I am only trying to set the record straight for myself and for my fellow providers in Freeborn County. We all love what we do, and that’s a fact! But keep in mind, we are no Rockefellers! So when it comes time for Christmas, the best wine at Three Oak Vineyards and Winery and a box of Lindor chocolates is greatly appreciated!

Jaclyn Flatten

Albert Lea