Ever had an experience of a daycare?
Daycare is a place where people who cannot depend fully on themselves such as children and newborns are taken to during the day to be looked after as their parents /guardians go to work. Data from Kenya Data and Health Survey (2014) show that 1 in every 5 girls between 15-19 years is either pregnant or already a mother. As of 2019 latest statistics, Kenya has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate with 82 births per every 1,000 births. In addition, over 13,000 teenage girls drop out of school annually because of pregnancy.
OAY got the opportunity to visit the Lungalunga Youth Centre yet again to do a follow-up with teen mothers who had dropped out of school due to pregnancy to find out how they were doing since the last time we visited. Becoming a mother at such an early age comes with a lot of responsibilities since most of the adolescents come from needy families and the boys that get them pregnant do not usually take up the responsibility. The issue of absent dads came up when we were trying to get real-life stories from these teen mothers. 98 % of the responses were that the men/boys responsible for the pregnancies ran away after they realized the girls were pregnant or after the babies were born.
A lot of the burden is left to the mother since she has to look for means of survival for the child as well as for herself, and in this case, OAY wanted to find out where they leave their babies when they head to work every day. In regard to this, a few questions came up:
- Are there any daycares around?
- How much do the daycares charge?
- What are some of the experiences in the daycares available
- What suggestions/improvements do they want to make the daycares’ experience better?
Around the Lungalunga area, they mentioned four daycares available which include Arise and Shine, Reuben Primary, California Daycare, and St Barrack. Charges are different depending on the ages of the children. For children between the of age 0-9 months, the charges are Ksh 150, for fussy babies and children between 10 months-2 years @ Ksh 100, and for children over the age of two years @ Ksh 50.
One of the challenges that these teen mothers face in these facilities is that most of them lack enough materials to engage the kids such as playing materials, mattresses, and mats for the kids to sleep on during their afternoon naps. Another concern for the mothers is that caregivers are few in the daycares due to a large number of children in the facilities leaving some of the children unattended especially for a diaper change and feeding times.
The mothers had suggestions that could make the experiences in the daycares a better place for their children. For one, daycares need enough caregivers to look after the children so that every child gets enough attention, they also need in-house nurses who can look after children with underlying health issues, offer first aid services in case of an accident, and ensure food is handled properly in the daycare and that balanced diet for the babies should be provided.
Lastly, to ensure that there is safety in the daycares, parents should make sure the facilities are conversant with the person who drops and picks up the child every day. Every child deserves an enabling environment where they can grow and reach their milestones.