Private day care centers want cash

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Private day care centers want cash

An association representing private day care centers in Gyeonggi began staging its 12-day rally yesterday to call for shorter working hours, less government regulation and government subsidies comparable to those given to public centers.

The private centers account for about 90 percent of all day care centers in Gyeonggi and offer child care services to about 100,000 children. The association consists of about 12,000 day care centers.

In a push to press their demands, the child care organization said that during the protest, members will only look after toddlers for eight hours a day, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The announcement prompted a scramble among parents to look for alternative child care venues with longer hours.

The association insisted that members’ workloads had significantly increased following the government’s introduction of free day care services in March. However, the financial assistance that private child care centers receive from the government is far lower than that for public facilities, it said.

Private centers have continued to receive 220,000 won ($208) per month for the past four years, while public centers have been given additional financial support to cover operating and personnel expenses under the welfare program.

“The government hasn’t taken into account the rise in costs over the years and has kept subsidies unchanged for four years,” the day care organization said. “Such a policy only adds to our financial pressure.”

The association also blamed the government’s across-the-board evaluation, arguing that it was too demanding and laborious. The assessment requires 80 documents for a day care center with less than 40 children, and more than 100 for a center with more than 40 children. The evaluation is conducted every three years.

Members of the association said teachers are unable to supervise children properly during the testing period because of work associated with the evaluation. Document preparation can take three to four months, they added.

Additionally, the group said they work much longer than employees at public centers.

“Most private day care center teachers work 12 hours, while teachers at public entities work eight hours,” said Lim Chae-min, the director of the association.

The call for better conditions will likely spread as other associations plan to follow the suit.

“We’d also like to hold a rally in protest of the government,” acknowledged Lee Jae-oh, the president of Incheon’s association of day care centers.

Lee added, “I know day care centers in other regions are also preparing for a movement. So, it will spread further.”


BY CHOI MO-RAN, PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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