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First-Generation American: My Family’s Journey to Embracing Center-Based Child Care

First-Generation American: My Family’s Journey to Embracing Center-Based Child Care

Today’s post comes from Bright Horizons Financial Analyst, Susan Jepkosgei.

When I returned to work after maternity leave, I was both excited to be working outside of the home again after 12 weeks of being away, and also anxious about how my daughter would take to her new caregivers at the child care center. Would they be able to recognize her different cries? Would they miss cues that would alert them to my daughter’s needs? There were so many questions racing through my head.

As it turns out, I was worrying over nothing. The teachers I entrusted Bella with were amazing, and she immediately took to them. They posted pictures and updated the activity logs so I could “check in” on her throughout the day.

While we were embracing center-based child care in the US, my mom, who was still living in Kenya at the time, was struggling to wrap her mind around the concept of sending a 2-month-old to a child care center. You see, back home in Kenya, babies usually stayed at home; they only ventured out for doctors’ appointments. If you happened to see a baby out and about, they would be wrapped up and cocooned in several layers of blankets. You would probably only see a glimpse of a little nose poking out through the layers. Despite the fact that temperatures back home rarely dip below 70F, the belief is that babies need to be covered at all times and held close to their caregiver, usually the mom or a trusted nanny.

So when I explained to my mother that I left her only grandchild in the care of teachers that I had only met once before during the center tour, she was incredulous.

“Why don’t you get a nanny?” “Why do you have to send her to ‘school’?” she pressed. When I explained to her that having a full-time, live-in nanny was not an option for us, she demanded that I move back home.

A New Perspective on Center-Based Child Care

Fast forward to today. My mom has since moved to the United States and has had the opportunity to watch her granddaughter thrive in the presence of her classmates and beloved teachers. She now understands that center-based child care is a lifeline for families in which both parents work outside the home. She now sees my daughter’s caregivers as an extension of our family, and even laughs about the concerns that she had before.

My daughter is learning her ABCs, her numbers, and even Spanish. She is social, outgoing, and inquisitive. And we credit this to the early education professionals helping us raise a well-rounded child.

It may have been a long road, but we’re grateful that our child care decisions are no longer a topic of discussion at the family dinner table.

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