Opinion: Private day care – Stop using the public school system’s lead

Why do private day care centers follow public school snow days?

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I am sure many parents in Portland breathed a sigh of relief this week when the public schools reopened after several days of snow closures.

It was also a relief for parents of infants and toddlers who send their kids to day care. Most child care facilities follow the city’s public school system’s lead when it snows and close their doors too.

I am a parent of a toddler in day care, and I am sure I am voicing the frustration of many parents who think it is unfair that these facilities mimic the public schools’ snow day closures.

For one, most day care facilities are private businesses that parents pay high fees to send their kids to. Portland is one of the most expensive cities for child care relative to average salaries. It seems absurd that a private business would follow the lead of the public school system when it comes to closures.

The hardest rub is the fact that many day cares choose not to reimburse parents when they shut their doors because of bad weather. For parents who send their kids to day care full time, the past month has been a heavy financial burden.

RELATED STORY: Portland’s snow shame

This is particularly the case for parents who had to find replacement care for their child because they had to go to work. It has been tough for all parents of school-age children who have had to balance the responsibilities of work with care for their kids. But for working parents of children who go to day care, many effectively had to pay twice for care during the past month’s closures.

For sure, there were days during the recent bout of snow where the weather was so bad that it made sense for day cares to close. But most of the time it was possible for parents to transport their kids safely.

I live just three blocks from my son’s day care. It was a hard pill to swallow to know I could have so easily walked to the facility despite the snow. For some parents this wasn’t an option; but for those parents that could get their kids to day care safely, the facilities should have been open.

The disruption of the past month’s snowy weather should be a wake-up call for government officials and businesses. 

And for privately-run child care facilities, stop using the public school system’s lead as a strategy for running your business.   

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