The Rise of Extreme Daycare
January 9, 2015 6:10 AM   Subscribe

In the garden of Dee’s Tots Childcare, amid the sunflowers, cornstalks, and plastic cars, a three-year-old girl with beads in her braids and a two-year-old blond boy are shimmying. These are Deloris Hogan’s 6:45 p.m. pick-ups. Nearby, also dancing, are four kids who won’t be picked up until late at night, as well as two “overnight babies,” as Deloris calls them. Dee’s Tots stays open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; the children’s parents work unconventional hours, producing an unexpected cycle of drop-offs and reunions. One afternoon in August, the kids bounce on the center’s inflatable castles, rustle around at the sand tables, and eat a watermelon snack. Then it gets dark.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 (52 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fascinating piece. I've read several articles lately which touch on how algorithmic scheduling is fucking with worker's lives; places like this are an obvious consequence, and now I wonder why it didn't occur to me that they must exist.
posted by Diablevert at 6:26 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Weren't we supposed to have evolved, as a society, past the era of orphanages and baby farms?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


News at 11: Middle-class person discovers that there's a hidden side to their 10pm Costco run.

I'm still kind of surprised this is surprising to people. What did they think happened to the kids of all those people on late-night shifts? Sometimes you get lucky, and you have extended family to watch the kids at night. Sometimes you don't, and you use daycare.

Deloris sounds awesome though, even through the faintly patronising "These children are so surprisingly well behaved" tone I kept on hearing.
posted by Katemonkey at 6:26 AM on January 9, 2015 [40 favorites]


Just the other day I was talking with someone about how complicated childcare scheduling is, even for a middle class professional with a reasonably predictable schedule. When there are two parents, both of whom work and both of whom have jobs that require some travel and evening meetings, either you have extended family, you have a nanny, or you suffer. Add in the complications of lower wages and more unpredictable schedules, plus perhaps being a single parent, and I have no idea how people manage.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:33 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


I thought we were calling it school now? "Daycare" is so 1990s.
posted by resurrexit at 6:38 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


i keep thinking about finland's holistic educational system: "It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free."

also btw... unlike pre-schoolers, college-aged kids can vote (i'd also note it's harder for working age parents working longer hours for less to...)
posted by kliuless at 6:40 AM on January 9, 2015 [21 favorites]


It's heartbreaking that this has to happen at all, but in this particular case, the Hogans seem pretty awesome, and those parents are pretty lucky to have such a great place to take their kids. It makes me wonder how many other 24-hour places are far, far less sweet and kind than this one.
posted by jbickers at 6:41 AM on January 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


Living in the USA: extreme everything, whether you want to or not.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 6:45 AM on January 9, 2015 [23 favorites]


News at 11: Middle-class person discovers that there's a hidden side to their 10pm Costco run.

The downside of a 10 PM Costco run is standing outside of a closed Costco. I don't think that there's a Costco anywhere in the US that is open to customers at 10 PM.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:50 AM on January 9, 2015 [45 favorites]


Not to mention that CostCo probably has sane scheduling to go along with their sane wages.

The 10 pm Walmart run, now, that's something else again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on January 9, 2015 [30 favorites]


The American workplace is particularly hostile to anyone with fantasies of spending time with their children, particularly toward the women.
posted by Renoroc at 7:00 AM on January 9, 2015 [23 favorites]


Ok, but I'm not buying the "retail open in the evening is responsible" because it is entirely possible to have late-night employment but schedule your employees in a way that is predictable and workable, just like any other industry that uses shift work.

So it's not the 10 pm Walmart run. It's that Walmart employees don't know till the day of that they're working the 3-12 shift. And that is all on Walmart's slimy shoulders.

Late-night childcare has always been a thing, but it tends to be underground because the people who need it can't afford high prices, generally speaking. The people above us in one apartment were definitely doing some kind of late-night babysitting service; no kids there in the daytime, even on weekends, but from 9pm on it was what sounded like at least 5-6 of them. Some people bring their kids with them if they can and let them sleep while they work; there was a StoryCorps that mentioned this, about a mom who cleaned offices and let her kids sleep on the executive couches. Sometimes kids sleep in cars. None of which is great, mind you. But it's always been happening.
posted by emjaybee at 7:06 AM on January 9, 2015 [44 favorites]


"tear-stained goblins of exhaustion"

Yeah, that's about what lil' selfnoise is when she misses a nap.

Being that parent who is both in the difficult situation of having two kids in daycare and two working parents and the clearly lucky and enviable position of having both parents work sane hours... God. I feel like I should stop supporting this insanity by shopping late hours, but of course I can't because I work all day!

Our society is insane.
posted by selfnoise at 7:08 AM on January 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


Similarly, I've wondered how homeless folks handle night/evening jobs. Most of the shelters I know of are only open at night and close during the day. But many job openings are for evening/night shifts. So, where do those people sleep if they would sleep during the day, work at night, and the shelters are closed?
posted by jillithd at 7:10 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


This isn't really "extreme" at all. Actually, these places and family home daycare were a godsend for me while I was a single parent in the Army on shiftwork.
posted by corb at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2015 [15 favorites]


this sounds pretty close to how my siblings and i were watched over back in the 80s, except it was a home daycare - same sort of always open, kids coming and going at all hours. dad was deployed, mom worked at the food processing factory where her shifts would change around.
posted by nadawi at 7:24 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


years ago I used to live near some casinos and on the bleak highway that led to them, there was a home that had been converted to a 24 hour daycare. the rest of the businesses on that stretch of road were things like pawn shops, check cashing and payday loan places, and liquor stores. it seemed sad to have to drop your kid off at such a daycare.
posted by jayder at 7:25 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Corporate America is searching for a solution to this problem, blindly probing forward toward what will someday be obvious to them: We must put the children to work, too! That will solve multiple problems in one stroke! Why didn't anyone think of this before??
posted by clawsoon at 7:29 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's almost like the rich and powerful want the poor to stay poor by keep their lives unpredictable and unstable. Over the past few years, I've seen an increasing number of community college students drop out because they have no idea when and if they are going to have to work every day, so they can't make it to class regularly. They want to improve their lives, but it's become impossible to do so because it saves shareholders some money.
posted by bibliowench at 7:32 AM on January 9, 2015 [35 favorites]


I hope the Hogans don't get any unwanted attention from the authorities as a result of this piece. You never want to catch the eye of a petty bureaucrat who'll shut you down for bs reasons so they look good to their superiors.
posted by dr_dank at 7:32 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


There was a feature on the BBC about boarding schools for toddlers in China.
posted by BungaDunga at 7:36 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This made me a little weepy. I'm super lucky to have a partner to watch our babe while I work wonky hours.
posted by Bacon Bit at 7:38 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


The need for overnight daycare for single parent shiftworkers is one of the most frequent shocks to CEOs on Undercover Boss. It has NEVER OCCURRED TO THEM.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:42 AM on January 9, 2015 [53 favorites]


Back in the early 1970s six other women and I had an overnight cooperative daycare. We shared the space- the parlor floor of brownstone on the Lower East Side of NYC- with another group of moms who did daytime coop daycare. Our half of the rent was $40./month; rent control was a very good thing. Between us we had 9 children ranging from 10 months to 8 years, but on any one night there were never more than 5 kids at night care.

We each took our turn being the mom of the night. Mom-of-the-night would arrive at 6PM, play with the kids, feed them a simple meal -back in those days we didn't have all the diet divisions/allergies/addictions we have now-, give them a group bath in the giant old tub, read to them, and have them all tucked into their mats and asleep by 8 PM. The overnight mom slept near the children and got up to tend to any child who woke up.

Instead of picking them up when they were done with whatever they were doing, the moms picked them up in the morning by 8 AM, by which time the kids had been fed, diapers changed, teeth brushed, etc.

One mom made enough as a waitress on weekend nights that she didn't have to work other jobs. One took evening classes at Columbia. Another was studying to be a court reporter. And another just liked to go dancing once or twice a week.

We all agreed that it was senseless to wake the kids up when we were done with whatever we were doing and drag them through the streets to our homes if we did not have to.

I just thought I'd put this out here in case anyone wants/needs to do something similar.
posted by mareli at 7:51 AM on January 9, 2015 [98 favorites]


This same day care was profiled a few months ago on NPR's Here and Now, and I started yelling at the radio. The interviewer was just so incredulous that any family would need care for their children beyond the hours of 8 am - 5 pm. It was real upper middle class myopia.

It's not so terrible or unusual that kids may need care at night. The bigger problem is those ever changing shift schedules, where workers really can't plan out the rest of their lives.
posted by stowaway at 8:04 AM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here's the link to the Here and Now story:
http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2014/11/18/extreme-day-care
posted by stowaway at 8:09 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Another factor of this sort of scheduling is that the kids are never going to be able to do a traditional preschool, and kids who go to preschool/kids who don't is yet another rising sign of income inequality.
posted by selfnoise at 8:17 AM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


This is not a new idea. During World War II, the Kaiser Company built shipyard child care centers for working mothers, which provided not only 24 hour childcare, for shift workers, but also had take-away meals available for mothers to take home and heat up for the family after the shift was done.

"The government-subsidized Kaiser West Coast Shipyards nursery schools, which enrolled more than 7,000 offspring of women war workers, offered the perfect opportunity to test theories of the then-fledgling field of child development."
posted by anastasiav at 8:19 AM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


It is absolutely possible, with the scheduling software, to use the computer to generate schedules based on who is available when. All it takes is the will to do it, on the part of management. You have to do the work to tell the software when each person is available, and you have to hire enough people. But given enough employees and their availability specifics, it can crank out a schedule that doesn't trespass on the employee's day care arrangements or college classes, even while it picks the cheapest available person for every shift.

Once in a while there might be a shift when no one is available, and the manager has to strong arm someone. But if this is happening to your organization regularly, you are doing it wrong. Offer a little more money for that hard-to-fill shift! Focus your hiring on getting people who will work that shift! This is how the free market is supposed to work. It doesn't have to grind anyone down if management would just try.

I used to schedule low wage employees, back in the days before computers. With the software we have now, that job could be done so much better, for the employees as well as the company. It's not the software causing the problem, it's tinpot dictators in management choosing to schedule people badly just to throw their weight around, or just not caring enough to even try to make decent schedules.
posted by elizilla at 8:28 AM on January 9, 2015 [28 favorites]


All it takes is the will to do it, on the part of management.

Don't hold your breath.
posted by rtha at 8:37 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's almost like the rich and powerful want the poor to stay poor by keep their lives unpredictable and unstable. Over the past few years, I've seen an increasing number of community college students drop out because they have no idea when and if they are going to have to work every day, so they can't make it to class regularly. They want to improve their lives, but it's become impossible to do so because it saves shareholders some money.

I finished writing an advocacy piece for a report on this very topic just hours ago.
Bibliowench, between this comment and your comment in the thread about Obama and community college, I'm starting to feel like we teach at the same place (if only we didn't live in different countries).

I absolutely believe this model of labour serves the powerful very well. An undereducated, insecure populace who are too busy surviving to mobilize against the status quo? It's awfully convenient.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:43 AM on January 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


"Similarly, I've wondered how homeless folks handle night/evening jobs. Most of the shelters I know of are only open at night and close during the day. But many job openings are for evening/night shifts. So, where do those people sleep if they would sleep during the day, work at night, and the shelters are closed?"

I've had co-workers on a swing-shift warehouse job who slept under a nearby overpass.
posted by idiopath at 8:46 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've seen an increasing number of community college students drop out because they have no idea when and if they are going to have to work every day, so they can't make it to class regularly.

OT: that's where the udacity (of nope ;) comes in (sponsored by mongoDB & facebook!) to make more scheduling algorithms that need more algorithms (that turn people into data...)

All it takes is the will to do it, on the part of management.

the future of work: "They will continue to work -- harder, in many cases, than anybody -- to keep the system, and each other, working... Unemployment makes work more, not less important. More makework does not mean less work, just less work it is possible to perform with even a vestige of self-respect."
posted by kliuless at 8:53 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


...because it is entirely possible to have late-night employment but schedule your employees in a way that is predictable and workable, just like any other industry that uses shift work.

Many low-wage employers make it a policy to not establish regular schedules for their workers, in addition to requiring them to be available at a moment's notice 24-7. They do this in order to make it difficult for the worker to have a second job, which might make them less reliant on employer #1.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:08 AM on January 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


They do have the scheduling software to schedule around availability. They just happen to schedule around demand instead (how many orders came in, what were numbers last year at this time, etc) . There are so many people clamoring for low wage jobs that these companies don't need to worry about workers' needs.

I've worked in retail. I've seen the fancy scheduling software. In a small store nicer managers try to accommodate you, but I have a feeling in bigger places, you're just a replaceable cog.
posted by sio42 at 9:09 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I also work at an open-access college (4-year, not 2-year but the same idea as a community college). I spent Wednesday helping with new student orientation, where I spent about 20 minutes talking to a guy before I finally understood his question. He kept asking "What's my schedule the second week of class?" I finally got it: he assumed his class schedule was just for the first week of class because he expected that college, like work, would change his schedule every single week.

Luckily, the sporting goods store where he works is closed in the mornings, so we were able to set him up with classes only in the mornings that he should be able to attend no matter how shitty his boss is. And now he knows that college sucks a little bit less than his job.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:29 AM on January 9, 2015 [56 favorites]


Katemonkey: Deloris sounds awesome though, even through the faintly patronising "These children are so surprisingly well behaved" tone I kept on hearing.

They're surprisingly well-behaved because many of them don't have a good sleep schedule, from the sound of things.
What if the children turn into tear-stained goblins of exhaustion before Deloris gets them tucked in? How will she manage it?
...
“When I pick them up they should be sleeping; I have to wake them up. With the little one it’s easy, but the older one….” Marisol trails off.
I am quite familiar with the "tear-stained goblin of exhaustion," and my wife and I work pretty standard middle-of-the-day shifts. But sometimes bedtime gets pushed out, and there have been nights where two fairly capable adults get worn out by one toddler who should have been asleep two hours ago, and who will wake up early because that's what happens when he doesn't get to bed on time.

Sleep begets sleep.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


This has suddenly reminded me of one of the sadder sequences from the film Paris Je T'Aime, which concerned a single mother working as a nanny. (That clip doesn't have subtitles - the gist of the brief conversation she has with her boss is that her boss is casually telling her she'll be back a couple hours later than usual, and asking "that isn't a problem, is it?")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:58 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


or Two Days, One Night where: "the Dardennes essentially reconfigure 12 Angry Men into an episodic drama about the zero-sum game of economic crisis. As Sandra hops around town, from one employee’s home to the next, the film unfolds as a series of miniature moral confrontations, Sandra politely but firmly forcing her co-workers to weigh her predicament against their self interests."
posted by kliuless at 10:40 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Deloris sounds awesome though, even through the faintly patronising "These children are so surprisingly well behaved" tone I kept on hearing.

I thought the reporter was surprised at how well behaved the kids were because they were used to middle class kids. I work in a coffee shop in a chichy neighbourhood; we get some really bratty, entitled toddlers, and their parents just give them what they want.

This has suddenly reminded me of one of the sadder sequences from the film Paris Je T'Aime, which concerned a single mother working as a nanny

This just made me realise why I think of at-home day cares as more socially positive than nannies who work in your home. My mother was a single mother and did childcare, but because the children came to her home, she could care for us just fine along with the other children.
posted by jb at 11:07 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


Now Deloris and Patrick, ages 53 and 58 respectively, work around the clock. Both go to bed around 1 or 2 a.m. Deloris then wakes up again if one of the overnight babies needs attention. She goes back to sleep and Patrick wakes up at 5:45 a.m. He makes breakfast for the overnight babies and prepares the house for the 6 a.m. drop-offs.
These people should be immortalized in epic songs.
posted by Etrigan at 11:13 AM on January 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just watched the clip: not only could she have looked after both babies at once, but having the second baby would be good for her employer's baby for socialisation - insta-sibling.
posted by jb at 11:14 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


JB - I assume you're talking about the clip I posted from Paris Je T'Aime. And if that's so - you're assuming her boss would let her do that. Not every boss would see it that way.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:23 AM on January 9, 2015


What a difference 14 years makes. The second comment in this related post was essentially "Lol, don't breed you dumb poors."
posted by fontophilic at 11:43 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


The second comment in this related post was essentially "Lol, don't breed you dumb poors."

That comment was by liberal blogger Oliver Willis, by the way.
posted by escabeche at 11:52 AM on January 9, 2015


The fact that he's a liberal blogger doesn't matter a dick-shit. It still was a sucky thing to say.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


What a difference 14 years makes.

That is a postcard from another world. A lot of water under the bridge since then, but above all the 2008 meltdown. The conversations here about class and economic reality feel really different now.
posted by selfnoise at 12:25 PM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


But Wilis was always a smug, knowitall centrist so this doesn't surprise me in the least.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:55 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since 2008, some middle class people are seeing (and experiencing) a bit of what poor people saw all along.

EmpressCallipygos - yes, I realise not all employers would allow a nanny to bring her children along. I was still in the middle of my realisation why I have always preferred what I call "own home daycare" (which is also what the daycare in the original article started as) to a nanny. Parents who take their kids to an own-home daycare/babysitter often just expect that the carer's children will be there as well - and it's a model of care that's very common for many working class families (being cheaper than licenced daycares). Though my British partner says that when he was a kid, his parents shared nanny with a couple of families. She came to their homes in rotation. But after she had children, she brought her children as well. Different culture - and they were mostly left-wing academics.

I do know a sociologist who is studying the issue of carers (whether for children or the elderly) basically giving up the care of their own children/elderly to care for someone else's - only in the international context. In Canada, many carers have emigrated from Asia (especially the Phillipines) to do care-work, leaving a care-gap in their own homes.
posted by jb at 1:58 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Don't pick in Costco. The latest they are open is 8:30 and they're a great employer.
posted by bq at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Though my British partner says that when he was a kid, his parents shared nanny with a couple of families. She came to their homes in rotation

There's nothing unusual about "nanny shares" -- neighborhood parenting forums are full of people looking to set up those sorts of arrangements, or to bring another family into an already set up one.

Not that that would work for the people in this article, of course.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:46 PM on January 9, 2015


News at 11: Middle-class person discovers that there's a hidden side to their 10pm Costco run.

CostCo is #29 on GlassDoor's top 50 places to work. They close at 8:30PM on weeknights, and 6PM on the weekends.
posted by Fleeno at 8:44 AM on January 10, 2015 [5 favorites]


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