Child Care - Masks Off, Wallets Empty, What’s Next For Our Preschool Kids?

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Unmasking our children is going to cause a surge in enrollments in child care centers and preschools over the next several months and we all need to be prepared for what that means: the impact of supply and demand. We are going to re-enter the limited market of affordable child care options in the Anne Arundel County area.

We have long observed the limited availability of child care simply based on the number of two-working-parent households to maintain a higher standard of living than the majority of the country. This is a norm for our community. We work hard to enjoy our quality of life, and to be effective in our jobs, we need the reassurance that our children are in a safe, secure, dependable environment, and properly cared for by people we know we can trust, as well as help them develop in preparation for school and society.

But the drawback is that sometimes we are forced sacrifice those qualities due to the cost of child care. Survival comes first, but we don’t want to leave our children in the hands of just any caretaker who we don’t know. We want to develop a relationship with the caretakers of our children. We want to be sure they are instilling the same values and behaviors we would impart on our “mini me” if we could be home with them. We don’t want to be forced to simply put our children in the home of anyone because that person was available and affordable.

Some of us are blessed enough to know an in-home provider personally through word of mouth of a trusted family member or friend. Those are rare occurrences, though, and even when we find them, they may cost more than we can afford. When this situation works out, it is a great opportunity for our kids to develop with a consistent group of friends and leaders through their first few years of life and exploration. But space is still extremely limited, and we are often put on wait lists.

An often-overlooked option in recent years seems to be faith-based or “church housed” schools and centers. Years ago, as a new parent, I was not the type of person who would default to a church-based child care or preschool facility.

My concern was that this organization might be instilling different religious values in my child than those I believe or teach at home. However, I soon learned that children are not theological scholars debating divinity in preschool classes (shocking, I know). When evaluating a preschool or day care facility, what I’m concerned about most is not a church’s theological dogma that doesn’t impact my child. I want to know they are teaching my child simple foundational social and moral lessons. I’m looking for a school and teacher who starts with the basic lesson “do unto others as you want done to you” and grows my child from there.

I’m looking for the same kindness and Christian nurture that I received as a child, when I absolutely loved going to Sunday school. A teacher who leads with a caring heart and wants to see a graduating 4- or 5-year-old move on with strong academic, moral and friendship foundations so they can enter kindergarten confidently and ready for anything the world might throw at them.

We need to always have a “child comes first” philosophy and focus on how we can develop and prepare children for kindergarten and beyond in a way that best supports our community. Creative Beginnings and other church-based child care shouldn’t ever be focused on profits. They should simply work to nurture, develop and grow our children through three years of learning and play to build and support our community.

It’s because of this philosophy that I encourage everyone to put your local faith-based or “church housed” child care centers as the first options for your child’s needs. Whether you are religious or spiritual or not, providing that foundation for your children at an affordable cost is invaluable to their foundations to become great community members.

Creative Beginnings has a staff vaccination rate of 95% and plans to be 100% mask free for children in the fall. Information can be found at www.creativebeginningspreschool.org for tours, class registrations and schedules. There will be opportunity for before and after care from 7:00am to 6:00pm as well as the foundation of a 40-year preschool and experienced teaching staff.

David Bishop is a 1999 graduate of Severna Park High School. He currently serves as chairman of the board for Creative Beginnings Preschool in Arnold, as a member of College Parkway Baptist Church and as the president of the Mago Vista Area Civic Association, which is comprised of more than 2,250 homes in Arnold.

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