By Downtown Dad
Summer is over, kids are back to school and looking for day care for our toddler in downtown Los Angeles has been quite an education for me and my wife. We’ve come to learn that high prices, long wait lists and seemingly low standards are apparently the norm.
Look, our son is only 2. We understand he won’t be learning physics — at least not until we find that dreamy boarding school in the English countryside, the one that’s perpetually damp and the kids joke around in Latin. But we did kind of hope for at least a story hour, especially for the going rate of $1,000 a month.
So during one of our tours, when we asked the teacher who would be leading our son through his first formal learning experience if they read to the kids, she said not so much — but the kids were welcome to look at books anytime they wanted to. Problem is, genius that I believe him to be, my son can’t actually read — so we were expecting that they would read to him.
Our search has been frustrating to say the least.
First, as any parent out there with a toddler knows, many of the daycare centers have no openings for the foreseeable future. It seems there aren’t enough day care centers in this city and no one is doing much about it. You sign up on the wait list, and then just cross your fingers that something will become available in the next year or two. This might be acceptable to a family with at least one parent who can stay home from work, but if both have to work? Good luck figuring out what to do.
In downtown L.A., there are about a dozen or so day care centers. They range from publicly subsidized centers for very low income parents in the Skid Row area all the way to upscale places that cater to the privileged children of wealthy bankers and lawyers on Bunker Hill. Prices range from free to $1,500 per month for a toddler. The older the child is, the lower the monthly cost.
In our search, we checked out a few of the in-between centers, as well as an upscale place. The differences in the quality of the facilities were expected, with the upscale places having much nicer furnishings and surroundings. What we didn’t expect was that the in-between places charging $1,000 per month had very low standards for developmental exercises. At one place, when we asked what the development strategy included, we were told that potty training was the main focus.
This would all be fine, except that several of my coworkers with small children have told me about day care centers in the suburban neighborhoods where they live that cost half the price.
How do you say “downtown needs more affordable quality daycare centers” in Latin?
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To locate a child care center in your area and get helpful information, go to HealthyCity.org or call 211.
Not sure what to look for when searching for a high-quality preschool? Check out these guidelines. Learn more about the importance of good early care and education in the latest Ready. Set. Grow! Family Guide Back-to-School Issue, available online by clicking here.