Today was a roller-coaster of emotions. I was at a meeting of supervisors for a program which I oversee at my agency. The program sends "mental health consultants" to work with daycare providers - from licensed pre-schools to relative caregivers. The whole meeting was focused on how we (supervisors) support our staff (consultants) so that they can support their clients (daycare providers) who in turn can then support the children in their care. When this support doesn't happen - the results can be tragic.
Case in point: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-day_care_death_jan18,0,4483168.story?obref=outbrain
This woman, despite what many will think or say, is not a monster. She is a person. A person who made a horrible, tragic, devestating, and fatal mistake. She was also obviously a person who did not feel supported in her job of caring for small children. I used to BE a daycare provider - infant/toddler classroom - and I can't even begin to say how important that support is. Toddlers are wonderful, curious, lovable little people. They are also unreasonable, demanding, and often enraging. We, as a country/city/neighborhood/family, MUST start doing a better job at supporting those who care for young children. Until we do, children will continue to get hurt and killed.
Another example: I worked for 4 years in child welfare. I worked with children who had HORRIBLE things done to them. But every parent I worked with had wanted and intended to be a "good parent" to their child. Every single one. Some couldn't though - because there is not enough support. Last year a little boy, on my best friends' caseload, was beaten to death by his mother. She had no one, a child of the foster care system herself, and she worked for 10 years being a parent without incident. She had asked for help time and time again and voluntarily participated in our program for 2 years. But it wasn't enough. She needed family, friends, and neighbors to help support her too.
PLEASE everyone - look around you. Send a note of thanks to your child's teacher, help out for a morning in your child's daycare, volunteer to watch a neighbors' kids for an evening, or just stop and talk to that young mom in the grocery store who is struggling to keep her baby calm. Tell her she's doing a good job, empathize with the struggle, or just SMILE understandingly. Everyone needs support, and you never know when you'll be saving a life.