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Affordable Daycare for Working Parents in the Post-COVID Era

by John Brian Shannon

Most people who work in Britain’s National Health Service have children — whether those NHS workers are Doctors, Surgeons or other professionals, or are Hospital maintenance staff — the vast majority of them have children who live at home.

Which isn’t a problem when there’s no Coronavirus going ’round.

But during the first wave of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, many parents were forced to choose between going to work so they can pay their mortgage, or staying at home to care for their children. A terrifying choice for parents. And it created a terrifying problem for the NHS because at the time the national healthcare service needed the maximum number of staff — NHS staff were booking time off work to stay at home with their kids.

Fortunately, the NHS has a list of former employees and another list of people who had applied to work for the NHS but hadn’t yet been selected. This worked as a kind of pressure relief valve, although it couldn’t replace the vast number of Moms or Dads who took leave to care for their youngsters.

And that, friends, isn’t the best way to run a railroad!


Daycare Located Near the Workplace for Working Parents

Now that the second COVID-19 wave is starting, some jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and Australia are telling parents that school opening dates will be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. And I expect the same will happen in the UK over the coming weeks as the second wave hits with even greater impact than the first wave.

And again the NHS will have parents taking time off work to take care of their suddenly school-less children. Of course, as I wrote above, there are some, repeat some former NHS people and some future hires that the health service can access to alleviate staffing shortages during the second wave, but it won’t be enough to cover the shortfall.

It’s no wonder that healthcare workers were posting images of themselves on social media earlier this year to show us what it looks like to work 12-15 hours per day in a Hospital while wearing uncomfortable PPE and working in unusually crowded conditions with overtired co-workers. Not the ideal situation for healthcare outcomes.

What the NHS needs to do is to offer free daycare for parents and locate it within one block of the Hospital where one or both of the parents work.

Mom (or Dad) who works at the Hospital simply drops junior off at the daycare facility located across the street from the Hospital, and then picks up the child on the way home — for as many days as school remains closed. So obvious!

This should’ve started in the 1950’s when women began working away from home. And not only the NHS should’ve been doing this since then, but the National Healthcare Service serves as a poignant example for this discussion.

All medium-to-large companies should offer free daycare within one block of their factory, office tower, or retail shopping mall: It would be a major benefit to working parents, it would be a benefit to companies so they don’t have workers taking time off work to look after their kids, and it would be a benefit to society.

That’s why it should be mandated by legislation, backed by educators of preschool and school age children, and backed by companies.

Perhaps a tax break for companies that purchase and operate an appropriately-sized daycare centre across the street from their location is the way to get it done — Pronto!