I’m in Bangalore, India on a very short trip but am loving every minute, including the incessant honking!
But this post isn’t about Bangalore.
Childcare in Bangalore
In Aug 2005, Ethan was born. I took the standard 3 months maternity leave and resumed work immediately after. I didn’t have the luxury of staying at home with both of us having just started our careers and a house and car loan to pay.
The only option was to find a maid who would look after our baby. We went through a number of them over the years and learnt that picking someone off the streets to look after your child is a terrible idea – but what do you do? There aren’t options available for working parents.
We got stuck with a thief, a liar and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The things they will do in your home when you are away at work – it gives me the chills!
It was a tough few years with having to change maids, often being left without one for a few weeks, because an ‘uncle’ has died in a village hours away from Bangalore – yes, this uncle also dies multiple times apparently.
Childcare in Australia
The decision to move to Australia meant that I had to think about Kaylin who was only 3.5 years old at the time. However, that fear was quickly eliminated when I found out that child care centres were the primary method of child care in Australia. Child care is available for babies (6 months onwards) and children up to 5 years. There are separate rooms for the babies, toddlers, and the older kids. Most centres operate between 6 am and 6 pm.
I quickly learnt that these child care centres are in demand and kids go on a waiting list, sometimes soon after they are born. We were lucky that our choice of suburb had a spot open for Kaylin.
Kaylin walked in scared and unsure on her first day but her educator, Vanessa sat patiently, talked and played with her. Needless to say, Kay loved her and it was smooth sailing from then on. These educators aren’t really poor women looking for any job they can get, instead these men and women are highly trained in first aid, child development and behavior.
I remember walking into the child care centre to pick up Kaylin thinking what a brilliant job these educators did – can you imagine being surrounded the entire day, every day with 20 snotty, cranky, naughty, high-energy kids? No wonder, we’d see one educator every evening light a cigarette as soon as she walked out of the centre! Poor Jenny!
The fee for childcare is quite high. Averaging at $100 a day, many parents decide if it makes financial sense for one parent to stay at home and look after the kid. But don’t lose hope! The government offers a Child Care Subsidy – the percentage of subsidy is based on your family circumstances, like number of children, income etc, which means you can still receive 50% off! Isn’t that wonderful? It’s exactly like in India where the government helps us with, uhm, err… ok, I’ve got nothing!
So for half the rate i.e. $50 a day, you get a full day’s worth of care while you work, trained professionals (who also lay out mini mattresses for afternoon naps), a child who has learnt things through activity, play, song and dance, a child who can’t wait to go back the next day, a diverse environment, and food.
Yes, food is included in the price! The child gets breakfast, morning tea (fruit), lunch, and an evening snack. The menu was my favourite read every week and I can tell you that there’s a lot of effort that goes into these meals.
The only downside of child care is that at any point in time, there’s at least one child with a cold, which then spreads very quickly to everyone around. Kay had months of picking up fevers and colds and lost all her baby fat in child care. But you know what? I’d take a cold any day over the child care I had in Bangalore!
Thanks Australia for making it possible for working parents. There’s so little to complain about.