A new pre-school and daycare in Gainesville — started by an accountant with a degree in early childhood education following her dream — offers something a little different for working parents: evening hours.
This means parents who work in fields like healthcare and hospitality — which often have irregular shifts and can require working evenings, weekends, and holidays — will have a safe, enriching place to send their young children while they work.
Universal, high quality pre-school and childcare has been shown to have a significant impact on working parents, particularly single, working moms. In Georgia, there are over 700,000 households headed by single parents, and more than 75 percent of those households are headed by women.
For working parents, access to child care can have a significant impact on the well being of child and parent alike. While kids benefit from early learning and socialization opportunities, parents benefit from the flexibility to pick up extra shifts at work, attend doctor’s appointments to manage their own health, or go back to school.
Working women — who still only make 81 percent of what working men in Georgia make — must also contend with the long-term economic consequences of cutting back on hours or leaving the workforce entirely to care for children, as this can reduce women’s lifetime earnings potential. The cost of private, high-quality childcare can also be prohibitively expensive for working families.
It’s worth adding that working parents who leave the workforce should equally be supported as working parents who stay, and lawmakers shouldn’t leave them out when considering policies like maternity, paternity and family leave.
When Arbendette Van, the accountant who opened her center, it was conversations with neighbors that actually sparked the decision to be open during non-traditional daycare hours.
“I went around the neighborhood, and actually over to Northeast Georgia (Medical Center), to find out what their needs were,” Van told the Gainesville Times. “It seemed like every day care opened up when mine opened up. When I went there, they said they really needed someone who could do second shift or even holidays.”
As GT reports, Van realized Gainesville didn’t have any child care facilities open during evenings and school holidays, even though there are clearly working parents who need childcare during those times.
Van perhaps doesn’t think she’s doing something that’s a big deal for Gainesville’s working parents, especially the city’s working women. But following her lifelong dream might prove to have a big impact, giving working moms and dads the chance to more easily balance the demands of both the “working” and “parent” parts of their identities.