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WTF gorilla

Some of you in the US may have seen this news article, but for those who haven’t, the nutshell: a woman somewhere in Michigan watches over the elementary school children of several (I believe it’s three) of her friends for about an hour before the school bus comes along to pick them up. An unnamed neighbor of this woman complained that she was running an illegal day care in a residential area–even though no money is changing hands. Now this woman is facing certain fines and potential jail time.

With all the parents involved going to the press, it’s gotten the attention of the governor, who apparently will take a look at the phrasing of the law so that it’s clear that if you don’t get paid you don’t need to be licensed. (Apparently, ‘favor’ needs to be defined, go figure).

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The interesting thing is that I have seen this happen over here in Florida. There’s a renter in my community who picks up the kids of two or three other families from school along with her own. She keeps an eye on them for a few hours until the parents pick them up. Once again, no money changes hands–affidavits to this effect have been provided by all parents involved, by the way. And yet…

Someone–yet another anonymous* neighbor–keeps calling the cops on her, complaining of an illegal day care in a residential area.

Now, as the grouchy neighbor who called the property manager when a group of kids tore the branches out of the trees across from my house, I understand having a hard time with little hooligans loose on the property.

Thing is, though… these kids stay home, having lunch and doing homework, until their parents pick them up. If you don’t happen to see them come in every day after school, and see their parents pick them up in the late afternoon, you wouldn’t know there are kids in that house, at all.

And I have to ask… what does it matter to anyone that this woman keeps three (or is it four?) kids in her house for a few hours from Monday to Friday? Why does anyone care, for that matter?

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*anonymous in a manner of speaking–we know it is the person directly across from her. Who, incidentally, keeps her three grandchildren at her own house after school until their parents pick them up after work. And those kids? They spend quite a bit of time tearing around the property.

15 Comments »

  • I’m sorry but that is fucked up. Some people CAN’T work without having this sort of arrangement, either because they can’t afford to pay for childcare, or they can’t find it.

    My mother had a childcare swap set-up for me when I was a child. She was a single parent trying to finish her degree, look after me, and work part-time. Had it not been for the swap arrangement, she couldn’t have afforded to continue her education.

    Some people just don’t think.

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  • Here in Duval in Florida (at least not sure if its a statewide thing), you can keep unlimited amount of kids without being licensed with one rule – they all must be from the same family. Or it least it was the rule as explained to me by my friends who are/were licensed DCP. So thats when Grumpy lady scrapes in, and the quiet kids across the road don’t.

    But yes, when did doing a favor for your friends become something that should be monitored? Are they going to start regulating carpooling too?

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  • So does that mean babysitters such as 13 and 14 yrs old now have to get a special license to watch children?

    What if the parents give their neighbor a penny a when their neighbor watches their children? Would all parties be happy then?

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  • Marianne McA
    October 1
    12:26 pm

    Same thing in the UK:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/sep/28/government-orders-review-babysitting-police

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  • Ridiculous. Some people just like to stir up trouble for others. I see nothing wrong with what the woman was trying to do. I understand the need to have the state monitor child care, but this is going overboard.

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  • The woman should be given a medal for helping out other families, not face any kind of persecution.

    Some people will never get it.

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  • Patrice
    October 1
    2:23 pm

    Yes this news story annoyed me because it seems so unfair and petty. Being a good friend/neighbor is something we wish we had more of and yet here are two examples where the good neighbor had cops called on them. We had a grumpy neighbor who called code enforcement on everyone for any little thing, parked the camper on the street…called on it, had too many cars in the driveway…called on it, etc, etc. One gal called him Mr Potato Head because he really did look like that in a troll-like way. He was old, bored, mean and apparantly had nothing better to do. Ironically the couple he sold the house to has 2 little girls and now it is little people central after school! But they are always with an adult and very well behaved. I’m right next door and think it’s great! Sounds of life on a very “old” quiet street. Good Karma!

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  • Anon76
    October 1
    4:38 pm

    Wow, now that is a real crock!

    The woman was even told that if she had a play date for the kids at her house and the other parents weren’t in attendance, then that constitutes daycare. Guess you better not give little Johnny that birthday party you were considering. And swapping kids so you can have date nights? Fuggedabout it.

    Seriously, in a world where times are so hard that many families must have two incomes, we’ve come down to penalizing their buds if they need a helping hand for a few hours? No cash transfering, just a good samaritan type thing?

    What an f’ed up world we live in.

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  • Messed up beyond all belief. The woman is doing a generous thing and facing reprisal over it is horrendous.

    People need to live and let live. Seriously.

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  • Here in Michigan we have the highest unemployment rate in the Nation. You would think the government would be helping out those few who do have jobs. Instead they’re making it even harder for working parents to find childcare. It just flabbergasts me.

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  • I saw that story and didn’t read it. The thought of someone helping someone else getting fined or jailed, disgust me. And people wonder why our communities are broken.

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  • Stuff like this makes me feel old. Back in my day, if it hadn’t been for good neighbors like that, my mother wouldn’t have been able to put food on the table. Every now and again one of them would even give me a ride to school if I missed the bus. Would they have to be licensed as chauffeurs now?

    Even if money had changed hands…what keeps it from being “babysitting” and not “daycare”? The number of kids? The regularity? Silly.

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  • The situation is just so wrong, and yet I am not surprised by it. Our society is governed by a bureaucracy that allows and even encourages nosy, mean-hearted people to call child services to report ridiculous accusations on their neighbors. A whole industry of foster families has been born out of this practice, and I am not surprised if there aren’t cases (maybe this case being an example?) where daycare lobbists and/or unions are the true benefactors. Excuse the pun, but I think these practices only foster social dependence on the bureaucracy, where common sense and neighborly kindness in raising children are choices that should be be suppressed. I don’t like it, not one bit.

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  • Those states must have more money and time than we did at CPS in Alabama. If somebody called us with some foolishness like that we would’ve laughed at them. We were more concerned about the parents who were putting meth in their kid’s bottles, not people who were leaving their children with responsible adults.

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  • Welcome to overregulation.

    Obviously Michigan has nothing better to do w/ its time and resources when it has had single state recession since 2001.

    Or perhaps it’s the bureaucratic incompetence that caused the single state recession since 2001…

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