Child Care is a Community IssueBravo to Ellen Goodman for...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 01, 1993

Child Care is a Community Issue

Bravo to Ellen Goodman for her column on Feb. 19, "A speak-out on child care." Now that we have an attorney-general-to-be, it seems that the child care dilemma is yesterday's news. Nothing could be further from the truth.

While we in Maryland are fortunate to have a very able resource and referral agency in the Maryland Committee for Children and a state licensing system that seeks to ensure a minimum standard of quality, millions of parents face the child care dilemma.

The difficulties of finding quality care, whether in the home, with a family provider, or center-based, are no longer just private family matters to be discussed around the kitchen table. The problems associated with finding good child care affect each and every one of us.

Employers are affected when employees need to stay home with a sick child, are late to work if a nanny is late, or are constantly worried about whether the child is in a safe, stimulating and learning environment.

Our children either flourish or languish in their early development that is so crucial to their healthy growth. The issue is no longer whether someone is a "good" parent or a "bad" parent for seeking child care. The issues are quality, cost and availability.

The reality is that the majority of women are part of the work force, most by necessity. If women and men are carrying equivalent workloads, men must come to the understanding that managing the rest of their lives (i.e. dinner, house cleaning, errands, etc.) is not a woman's job.

Unfortunately, The Sun, in its editorial "Good News on Child Care" (Feb. 14), while appropriately lauding Maryland's child care successes, made a crucial mistake in stating, "Most working mothers are not candidates for cabinet posts, but each of them knows the special anxiety that comes from the tug of dual responsibilities." The sentence should have read "Most working parents. . . "

It is unfortunate that society has not yet come to realize that it is both parents who must bear the dual responsibilities of providing financial support and emotional support to the family.

Child care is not and should not be seen as a "woman's issue." While each couple must manage this delicate balancing act in their own way, it is time for everyone (individuals as well as employers) to realize that balancing is required for dads as well as moms.

Finally, parents must understand that they are not alone. Each one of us faces these critical issues.

It is no sign of weakness or ineptitude to acknowledge that, while we feel isolated with our own personal experience, child care is a community issue that can no longer be ignored.

Shelly Laskin Hettleman

Baltimore

Paternity Law

The axiom "haste makes waste" is exemplified by the House of Delegates Judiciary Committee's premature vote -- perhaps because its chairman is under pressure to move bills quickly -- on the bill permitting a father to declare paternity via affidavit at the time of his child's birth.

The unfavorable outcome of this hasty action reportedly arose from the committee's belief that paternity matters should be prosecuted in the courts; under the proposed legislation that would have continued to happen in contested cases.

The now dead bill would only have made it convenient and easy for fathers to voluntarily acknowledge their children if they wished to do so.

Of course, the expense to taxpayers of tracking dads down later to accomplish the same goal would also have been lessened.

The bill's demise is ironic since three of four fathers, when located, do voluntarily acknowledge paternity.

Moreover, the sooner paternity is established, the more likely it is that support will be paid, and some public assistance costs may, perhaps, be averted.

West Virginia's in-hospital paternity project was so successful it has been expanded statewide. Programs in Virginia, Michigan and Washington have likewise reduced costs and increased the number of children who start life with two legal parents, not just one.

Given Maryland's high rate of non-marital pregnancy and our ongoing need to reduce the costs of accomplishing socially desirable goals such as paternity establishment, this decision was both hasty and wasteful.

Catherine Born

Baltimore

Good Program

The president's economic message to the Congress was masterful and encouraging.

It showed a brilliant, serious and determined leader who fully understands the economic problems facing this country, and who has a comprehensive plan for solving them.

Moreover, he challenged the Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to stop playing politics with the national debt and the deficit. One hopes that he will stand by his program and not be too much of a compromiser.

What a refreshing change after 12 years of greed, hypocrisy and lack of concern for the common good.

Alfred S. Sharlip

Columbia

So True

The "seven ages of man" have posed their individual problems since time immemorial.

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