Relative-based care isn’t replaceable

You’ve heard the expression “a face only a mother could love?”

Well let me tell you, when little ones are being sick from every orifice and wanting to kiss you with their snot-covered faces, that is serious Grandmother-love territory.

It takes a lot of love to willingly expose yourself to germs, cuddle pukey toddlers or comfort a child with a fever or cough.

My family is very fortunate to live close to my in-laws and that they are willing to help out with child care when the kiddos are sick or we otherwise can’t find care for them.

Plus, my dear, sweet mother-in-law almost inevitably catches whatever my adorable little incubators, ahem, I mean children, have brewed up for her — I mean, whatever is ailing them. Almost. Every. Time.

Grandpa didn’t escape unscathed last time either. He now sports a nasty cut on his head from trouble getting car seats back into my vehicle after the kid’s stay at Chateau Ma and Pops.

And what other choice is there when both parents need to work and kids are sick and can’t go to school or to their regular care ( and rightly so) to prevent the spread of viruses, etcetera? There aren’t too many people, with or without kids, who are willing to babysit a sick kid and risk getting sick themselves, so voila, enter grandparents.

It’s a special kind of love, and one I feel that shouldn’t be undervalued or disdained.

That’s just how it feels, however, with the UCP government’s decision to cancel the Kin Care subsidy program, which came into affect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Parents were notified via letter in early November of the end of the subsidy, in which letter, it pretty much stated that the government was moving towards supporting approved, certified day cares.

I of course don’t mean to take anything away from qualified, caring professional child care providers, I just take issue with that line because it basically implies indirectly that relatives are somehow a less valid provider of child care, and not as worthy of funding.

The subsidy made it affordable to have a family member care for my children and allowed me to compensate my mother-in-law for some of her costs.

It’s understandable in a way that it would not be a high funding priority, with all the other belt-tightening the province is doing, and it’s not really surprising, but still, it was a nice program to have.

Nice for me, essential for other families.

There are, of course, other reasons why relative-provided care may work better for some.

Having children in day care may not align with some families’ values, or be feasible for them financially.

Other children may struggle in a traditional day care setting, such as those with special needs.

Families with two or more kids of preschool age may not be able to afford day care fees, even subsidized, where a relative may have been willing to do it for the amount provided with the Kin Care subsidy.

In some cases, the loss of the Kin Care subsidy may force some parents to enroll their child in day care in order to stay subsidized.

A statement from Lauren Armstrong with the Ministry of Children’s Services says the government is, “focusing child-care subsidies to assist low-income families to enter the workforce or attend school by accessing child care in settings where there is more oversight and legislated standards of care and safety.”

Again, you can’t tell me that a loving relative willing to care for my sick kids isn’t valid or worthy.

The other child care-related subsidy to get the axe was the stay-at-home parent subsidy, which helps parents who are at home working or studying for less than 20 hours a week pay for preschool.

There was very little warning for that as well and with the school year already started, a lot of parents are now presumably scrambling to reorganize their finances or face pulling their kids from preschool.

Cutting the two subsidies is also problematic because there aren’t enough approved child care spaces in Alberta.

Armstrong also stated the two eliminated subsidies were used by less than one per cent of Alberta parents.

Well, if that is accurate, then how much is the government really saving by cutting those two subsidies?

These two cuts may very well force some parents out of the work force. A lot of whom may be women.

And there are other cuts coming in April that will effect child care providers.

It’s uncertain times for sure.

Eliminating the Kin Care program is a cut that directly affects my family. Which ones are you concerned about?

And to my in-laws, if you’re reading this, I love ya and hope you both feel better soon.

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