Thursday, March 19, 2009

Child Care Issues Facing Seattle Families

My two year old told me he is ready to go to preschool. As a M.Ed. in early childhood education, I'm not opposed to finding a quality, part-time ECE program for him to attend; but also due to my education and experience in the field of ECE, I also know some of the drawbacks too. I started looking into a preschool for him, knowing what I had in mind: starting in September, 2-3 days a week, 3-4 hours each day with a quality, developmentally appropriate curriculum.

Being new to the child care scene as a parent, and not very familiar with child care in Seattle, I started investigating. I was disappointed by what I found. There are at least 4 aspects of child care in Seattle that apply to my situation and do not meet the needs of our family. I may be unique, but I expect that there are other families who have similar wants for child care but are not able to find what they are looking for.

First, the majority of the child care centers I have looked into only provide full-time child care (7+ hours a day; 2,3 or 5 days a week). For my child, I am not interested in full-time child care. Instead I am looking for part-time education. I understand that the strong demand for early childhood education services is coming from families who rely on child care to be able to work. But what about the stay at home families who want supplementary educational services for their children? A parent could choose to pay for full-time care and follow a part-time schedule for their child's day but how many families, especially those who take the cut in pay for one parent to stay home, would choose that?

Many people have suggested parent co-ops to me. They have their own drawbacks that make them not useful for our needs. I would love to participate in the curriculum and planning of an ECE program; afterall, that's what I'm trained to do. But I will not participate at the expense of other children. In order to enroll my 2 year old in a preschool co-op, I would have to be willing to put my infant in another child care setting for the times I'm required to be present at the school. I'm not going to do that.

Another option is finding a family childcare home. I know that I'm not the first Seattle parent to discover that there is a surprising derth of family day care providers within the Seattle city limits. The reason for that is that operators of family day care home must own their home. They cannot be renting. With the average housing prices in the city, and the low amounts of pay that is generated by a family day care home, it is not a very good business proposition for those who are interested in becoming a family child care provider. Not only are renters kept from pursuing something that would contribute to their community, they are not allowed to do something that they might enjoy and might assist in supporting their families without having to find childcare for their own children. I could be counted among this group. I might consider starting a family child care out of my apartment, but it is prohibited by state law.

I also encountered child care centers that do not accept state child care subsidies for low income children, making child care less accessible for low-income families. These families are limited in their choices already, due to their lack of resources. Being excluded from upper-scale child care centers cannot help, especially if a low income parent is living in a pocket of the city were only upper-scale child care centers are available. I am surprised that child cares can opt out of accepting state subsidies because that appears to be discrimination based on income level. Is the city of Seattle really that elitist?

Because low-income families are effectively kept out of many childcare centers and they do have very limited access to family day care homes if they live in the city limits, another option available is exempt providers. This category of child care worker is defined as a family member, friend or neighbor who takes care of a child other than their own. Washington state law has a strange addendum to this: the exempt provider much take care of the child in the child's own home if the state is going to provide the family with a child-care subsidy. This is very different from California where exempt providers are able to receive child care subsidies when caring for another family's child in the provider's home. This is an indepensible option for many low-income families and only makes sense to make that option available to Washington families.

I look at these issues from a pragmatic, intellectual viewpoint; one that has been taught to view child care policies as impacting families across a spectrum of needs. If I were to assess these issues on a more personal level, I would say that the child care policies of the area make the decision for me: its best to stay at home with my child and provide educational preschool opportunities at home while interfacing with established informal playgroups around the city.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Availabilty of VBACs in the Seattle area

With the recent report that the Cesarean Section rate has reached an all-time high in the United States (, women find themselves more and more likely to have to ponder the question, can I have a VBAC with my next baby? One would think that the choice to give birth vaginally would be a matter of personal choice, one that a woman would be free to make without coercion, but evidence indicates otherwise. Some hospitals ban VBACS all together, while others say they allow them on paper, but discourage them in practice (see blog post: Legal Actions Against VBAC Bans and Seattle PI Article).

ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) provides a directory of facilities and their policies regarding VBAC. The following has been taken from their website for local hospitals servicing Seattle families:

Evergreen Healthcare: Kirkland
De Facto Ban

Harborview Medical Center - University Medical Center: Seattle

Kindred Hospital: Seattle

Northwest Hospital and Medical Center: Seattle

Overlake Hospital Medical Center: Bellevue

Providence Everett Medical Center: Everett

Stevens Healthcare: Edmonds

St. Francis Hospital: Federal Way

Swedish Medical Center - First Hill: Seattle

Swedish Medical Center - Ballard: Seattle

University of Washington Medical Center: Seattle

Valley Medical Center:Renton

By clicking on each facility from the ICAN directory, you can read more information that can give you an idea of the attitudes of the facility and the staff would attend VBACs.

Some facility level intervention rates are available through the Great Starts Guide to King County Hospitals. Their success rate will be a good indication of how supportive the facility and staff truly are to vaginal birth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

NW Taking Legal Action Against VBAC Bans

Out of the Northwest Women's Law Center and ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network):
I’m a lawyer with the Northwest Women’s Law Center in Seattle. I’m investigating possible legal responses to bans on vaginal birth after cesarean at hospitals in the northwest states - Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon. If you are currently pregnant and want to have a VBAC, but are facing a hospital policy that would require you to have a c-section regardless of whether you want it and whether it is medically necessary, and are willing to consider working with a lawyer on this, we’d like to talk with you. Please email us at Our services will be provided free of charge.

This appears to be follow-up action to a Seattle PI editorial from September of this year.

Quotes from that article include:
In many parts of this state, having one C-section delivery will require another at a subsequent birth, even over the objection of the pregnant woman and her doctor. Several Washington hospitals refuse to allow doctors to provide labor and delivery services to pregnant women who have had a previous C-section unless those women submit to a second C-section delivery.

Policies and practices that force pregnant women to submit to unnecessary surgery cannot be justified. We would never countenance that practice for any other patient. Pointing to potential risk to the baby does not justify ignoring the mother's decisions about her medical care.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Play It Safe at Laurelhurst Playground

A group of concerned parents and citizens are getting together to replace the aging and outdated play equipment at Laurelhurst playground in North East Seattle.

The City of Seattle is pretty aggressive about yanking out equipment that is past its useful life span, which ours is approaching. They have done this recently in Seward Park and a park in Magnolia. The community members around Laurelhurst would like to prevent this from happening in their neighborhood.

Here is what you can do to be involved:
1) Take the survey to share how you would like to see the playground improved:,
2) Become a committee member.
3) Personally ask businesses to support our project (all donations all tax deductible)
4) Encourage friends/family/neighbors to support the project with a donation
5) Help distribute the letter to people in Laurelhurst, and to people in your neighborhood if you live outside of Laurelhurst. It's illegal to put them in mailboxes, but you can give them to people or put them under their door mat, etc.
6) Help coordinate who is asking who for money. We need to make sure that we don't have several people asking the same individuals or businesses and I would like someone to track all of this.
7) Help with the lemonade stands. Of course most kids will need to be supervised by adults, the materials need to be purchased, signs need to be made, etc. (we are hoping that Metropolitan Market will be donating some things for us to sell at the stand). More matching grant funds are rewarded if kids are involved in the project.
8) Make your own donation. It would be great if all committee members will be the first to make a personal contribution to this project.

Those who donate more than $250 will be recognized at the park. The committee is hoping to raise $20,000 in total for the project and would like to do so in the next month.

For more information, contact:
Wendy Kelley

Monday, May 26, 2008

Solace for Mothers: A Online Community for Healing Birth Trauma

I have mentioned before that I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after what I considered abusive treatment from hospital staff when my child was being born. I struggled with the emotions of anger, blame and hurt for many months. They manifested themselves in intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, difficult functioning and sleeping, avoiding all health care situations and an obsessive need to understand and learn everything I could about my experience--how it went wrong and who was to blame. During that time, I felt utterly alone. I couldn't seem to find anyone who understood or had experienced something like I had, or if they did, they didn't react the same way and didn't understand my reaction.

From that hard place came the power to make a difference and to move forward. I was seeking solace and a community of women who understood. It didn't exist, really, or each group was very small, and not very active. So I set about doing something about it, and that's how the Solace for Mother's Online Community came to be. I'm including more information and announcing it as a new resource for moms in Seattle who may have experienced a traumatizing birth and then experienced post partum depression, PTSD or feelings of hurt and disappointment.

I hope that Solace does what its name implies: brings Solace to the hurt and grieving mothers out there.

This message is to announce a new online discussion board called Solace For Mothers, An Online Community For Healing Birth Trauma. It is for women who have experienced trauma around the process of giving birth. For these women, giving birth has left them feeling deeply disappointed, traumatized, or even violated. We want these women to know that they are not alone, that birth trauma is very real, and that other women have had similar experiences and feelings. We have created an online community as a place for women to begin or continue their healing journey.

In the online community, there are different categories and forums, and the topics covered are issues that often come up for women dealing with birth trauma. It is our hope that women can virtually support each other on their healing journeys in this online community, and perhaps eventually connect with each other in the real world if they choose.

There is an introduction page here;, and from this page you can register for the discussion board. Due to the very personal nature of this subject, we have made an effort to keep this community private, and women must register before being able to enter or view posts. If you do not fall into the category of a woman suffering from birth trauma, or if you would like to see a preview of the community before joining, you may visit this link to do so; This link is not the actual community and you will not be able to view members' posts from there, it will simply give you an overview of the topics covered.

We are sending this message out via email and posting it to online communities and to lists in order to reach these women. Please send this message to anyone who you feel may benefit from it.

Jenne Alderks and Jennifer Zimmerman
Creators and Moderators of the discussion board

Supported by Sharon Storton and the Solace For Mothers team

Friday, May 16, 2008

Airlines and Seatbelts

It seems that every time I ride on an airplane the pilot keeps the seat belt sign illuminated for practically the whole flight. It doesn't matter whether it's a 2 hour flight or 5 hour flight, the whole plane maybe gets 10 minutes to use the restroom. On a recent flight to California, the plane was in the air and had adjusted to it's flying altitude and more than several people got up to use the bathroom (I happened to be sitting next to the lavatories), they were told to return to their seat because the seat belt sign was still illuminated. One man ignored the flight attendant and used the restroom anyway. heehee
It didn't bother me so much when I didn't have kids, but when you have a poopy diaper or a toddler who needs to go NOW - what do you do? On Alaska Airlines I hit the call light and the flight attendant said to just be careful - which was nice but I don't think I would have gotten the same response from United.
There is evidence that long-haul flights (flight lasting four hours or more) may increase the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg. DVT can cause pain and may lead to complications such as pulmonary embolism. The risk is mainly the result of prolonged immobility, which can happen during any form of long distance travel, whether by car, bus, train or air. I'm not too worried about developing DVT myself but there are people out there that do.
What about the crying baby. We've all been on the flight where the crying baby needs to be walked down the aisle to be soothed. It not only comforts the baby but the weary parents and the passengers who are tired of hearing it.
So come on airlines, cut us a break and give us more than 10 minutes of non-seat belt time. :)

Baby 3.0 ............. and 4??

My husband and I recently decided to have one more child and wouldn't you believe that I conceived TWINS!! Shocked would be an understatement of how I felt. I cried not out of joy but of pure terror and fear. I already had two toddlers and was mentally prepared for one more not two. Oh, there was a time I wanted twins - before I had my first baby and that went out the window real fast. Twins don't necessarily run in my family unless you want to include a few distant cousins and an Uncle's wife. However, I did find out that women between the age of 35-39 are more likely to have twins than any other age group because the body produces higher levels of gona-dotropin hormones, which causes more eggs to mature and be released from the ovaries.

Now, a few weeks have past and although I'm still kind of dazed, I'm looking forward to it all. Oh, I still have fear and terror but I also have hope and joy.

I asked some mom's of multiples what advice to give a new mom with twins and here's some of what I got.

1. Get help, whether it's your mom, sister, nanny - just get help.

2. Dad's need to help out during the evening feedings. He doesn't get to sleep during the night b/c of work.

3. EAT as much as you can during twin pregnancy (the more food the better) REST as much as you can during twin pregnancy (be horizontal whenever possible) Once the twins are born it's a blur for the first year-embrace your chaos.

4. Keep the babies on the same schedule - sleep, eat, nap

5. Join the local Moms Of Multiples group.

Eastside Mothers of Multiples: They are the largest twin group in the king county area and have many members based in Seattle as well. I think they would be a great resource to find other moms in the same situation. They also maintain an excellent online forum that is a wealth of knowledge about twins.

North Seattle Mothers of Multiples: are a much smaller group, but nice because most of the moms are close by.

6. Read some books.

This book to was a godsend...and my twins are now incredible sleepers:
Posted by Sylvia