A New Resource for Farm Owners: How to Invest in Child Care and Watch Your Community Grow
Recognizing the Need
Child care is the cornerstone of any thriving community. In fact, 89% of farm workers are more likely to choose a job in a location with accessible child care services. When children are safely cared for, parents can fully focus on their work.
For farmworkers, child care is often extremely limited or unavailable during the hours needed. In some areas, it is cost prohibitive. Barriers such as language differences, poverty, intimidation, and lack of transportation can also be problematic when finding child care solutions.
When parents are preoccupied with home stressors such as lack of child care, it can be difficult to do their best work. In some cases, parents who lack child care resort to bringing their children to work or staying home to keep their children safe. In fact, 98% of farmworkers with children report having missed work in the last six months due to child care issues.
In this way, ensuring adequate child care services for farmworkers is beneficial to both working parents and their employers. Making sure the children of workers are kept safely away from dangers on the farm can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, and improve public relations.
As a young farmworker mother, Lourdes Villanueva gave everything to help ensure a positive future for her children. Unable to finish her own education in her youth, Villanueva worked each day in the fields, accompanied by her young son who spent most of his childhood in his mother’s truck while she picked crops. During her long hours on the farm, the two were exposed to perilous heat, hazardous chemicals, and dangerous machinery on a daily basis, just to make ends meet. Villanueva recalled when talking with her son: "On my breaks, I had to change your diaper and do whatever needed to be done and continue on working. And I always thought that you needed to do what I didn't do, which is finish your education first.” Without opportunities for accessible child care, farmworkers like Villanueva are left with few options and may need to bring their children to the workplace, where the children face dangerous exposures and the farmworkers impede their productivity as employees.
Along with our partners at the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, MCN has developed a new resource to address these concerns. “Roadmap For Delivering Child Care in Agricultural Communities,” which was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, helps ensure that children of workers are kept safely away from dangers on the farm. Drawing input from agricultural business owners, human resources directors, insurance providers, Head Start child care specialists, and farmworker parents, this workbook acts as a roadmap with steps that lead business owners to establishing accessible child care for their employees. By identifying challenges and overcoming barriers for farmworkers, this resource guides businesses to implement the services needed to cultivate their growing community.
“The Road Map is designed to assist individuals and organizations in identifying challenges and assets within their local regions regarding child care services for kids of agricultural workers,” said Barbara Lee, PhD, Director of the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety. “This local knowledge, combined with the references and resources in the Roadmap, will pave the way for developing an action plan that can help foster access to child care.”
“This resource is much needed in farmworker communities,” added Amy Liebman, MCN’s Director of Environmental and Occupational Health. “There are some amazing programs throughout the United States that are providing excellent child care services to farmworker families. This resource incorporates their strategies so that others can do the same.”
The Roadmap walks stakeholders through each step on the road to accessible child care. It breaks down the process of conducting a needs assessment, building a team of stakeholders, identifying funding sources, and implementing and marketing new child care services to those in the community. It also utilizes community resources and links to existing organizations and featured model programs.
Download the Roadmap on MCN’s site. For more information on utilizing the Roadmap or this project, contact Kate Kruse, Project Coordinator of Environmental and Occupational Health, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 512-579-4538.
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