Worth the Expense?

We all want what’s best for our children. We want them to lead rich lives, enjoy school and friendships and go to the best colleges. Raising children is neither easy nor inexpensive. High quality, immersive, one-on-one child care sounds like an enriching alternative, but will it pay off in the long run? Will our children excel at school and interpersonal relations five, even ten years from now, if we provide sometimes-expensive high quality day care now?


A recent report on long-term effects on children in child care suggests an unequivocal “yes.” Dr Deborah Lowe Vandell, principle author of a paper published in May/June 2010 Child Development titled, Do Effects of Early Child Care Extend to Age 15 Years? Results From the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth development said in a recent interview with WebMD, ”We think a lot of people expect the effects of early childcare would fade away by age 15. We found that they didn’t.”


Vandell says that participants who had high quality care had “fewer instances of problematic behaviors such as breaking rules, socializing with troublemakers, and rebelling against their parents.” They scored significantly higher on academic and cognitive tests, even a decade later.


An important question for parents is why? We believe that the confidence-building effects of high quality child care helps children become and remain inquisitive and fearless in their pursuit of knowledge. “Learning how to learn” is an old cliché, but is as true today as ever. It can start at an early age and measurably persists throughout childhood. We see our client children blossom and thrive under high quality, immersive care. It makes perfect sense that the effects persist.


How to Afford High Quality Child Care?


  • There are programs that allow you to have up to $5,000 a year taken out of your paycheck tax-free. The money is put in a special account to be used for child care costs. You may be allowed state and federal tax credits for child care expenses as well. Ask your accountant how these resources work.


  • Some employers offer reduced rates at on-site or other facilities. Some even offer “nanny days” as a benefit for their top employees. These programs pay for an on-call nanny to come to the employee’s home on days when other arrangements break down, allowing the employee to come to work.


  • Pursue a flexible schedule at work that allows you to juggle child care. You may ask if you can work 4 days a week for 10 hours and have an extra day off. Your spouse may be able to do the same, covering fully 40% of your quality child care needs.


  • Explore resources in your local community. Speak to your co-workers to learn what’s working for them. Join a mom’s club to tap into the “hive mind” of other families’ solutions. Read journals and sites like Active Kids where “How to Find Quality Care” articles abound.


Dave and Shelley Culp are co-owners of College Nannies & Tutors of Danville and Lamorinda. For more information visit www.collegenannies.com or call (925) 550-6738.