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Parents Need Support For Family Decisions
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most parents second-guess themselves enough without society planting doubts or creating more confusion as each family struggles with their individual choices.
"Employment opportunities and child-care decisions are the first major choices parents face as their family grows," said Dr. Louise Davis, family and child development specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
"The choice to stay at home or work outside the home often ends up as a no-win dilemma. One portion of society will not respect the parent who chooses to stay home and another portion will not appreciate those who continue employment," Davis said. "But for families to be strong, they need communities that respect both choices."
Davis said the "family values" phrase is increasing awareness of needs, but policymakers and employers still need to do more to help families make the choices that will meet their specific needs.
"The success of a community often comes down to how much industries value families," Davis said. "The availability of employment opportunities with flexible work hours or options for work at home can influence economic growth."
Employers should not reduce options for workers with families because of the potential for abuse of certain privileges. One way industries can support families is by providing on-site child care.
Glenda Bond has been the manager for the Sanderson Farms child-care facility in Collins since it opened its doors in January 1994. She reports the poultry company has experienced less employee turnover and improved moral since making an on-site facility available. Originally open only to Sanderson employees, about 20 percent of those enrolled are from the public.
"I've had many parents tell me they couldn't work if it weren't for our child care. We also get positive feedback from the schools these kids promote to," Bond said. "Joe Sanderson (company owner) will not let us just provide child care. He expects us to be teaching these children and preparing them for school."
About 175 preschool children are enrolled at the facility and the cost is comparable to other area child care centers.
Davis said the availability of quality child-care facilities provides parents with the freedom to decide between at least two good options.
"Whether a parent decides to at stay home or enroll their child in a child-care program, it's the quality of the child's day that will ultimately make a difference in his or her life," Davis said. "Positive interaction with people, especially in the early years, will put the child on the right path for a lifetime of learning."