A Friendly Child Care
Gloria Clemens had been a nurse for 12 years and liked her job in a pediatrician's office. She was also the mother of six, with a seventh child on the way.
Clemens liked her job but couldn't afford the child care that would have let her keep it. So 24 years ago, she started a family child care business in her own home that meets the needs of other working families.
Still going strong, she and her two aides work 10 hour days caring for 11 children.
Setting An Example
Clemens serves a range of families, and watches three children whose mother, Anna*, qualifies for state assistance with child care while she's going to school. She said the program, CalWorks, was good because it helped parents become self-reliant and set a good example for their children.
Anna's children used to cry when she left them, but Clemens said she gradually encouraged them to say goodbye and tell her they were proud of her, instead. "Anna didn't even graduate high school," Clemens said, "so she started way, way back."
"We were both jumping up and down," Clemens said, "when she got her high school equivalency. Now she needs to go farther, so she can support her kids."
Right now though, Clemens said, even when parents get to a point where they're working at a $12 per hour job, they still can't afford the child care their families need if they don't have some help.
A Good Space For Kids
Gloria Clemens' Kid Tip: I love dancing and music. I think that's a stress reliever. So when they feel bad, we tell them to sing one of their favorite songs.
When I see a kid who's had a bad day and see them singing, I ask if that made them feel better. They say yes, then we can usually talk about it.
"My house is not luxurious," Clemens said, but it has "everything to make life more pleasant for [the children.]" In addition to supplies to help with physical and emotional development, she said they needed "furniture that's their size, so they feel comfortable and don't get aches and pains."
"I spend more money on their furniture than on my house," Clemens added, explaining that she thought the children's needs should always come first.
The children seem to have picked up on Clemens' attitude, extending the same thoughtfulness to each other. When a child is unhappy or crying, she said, "the other children will always give them a hug and tell them they'll take care of them."
"Or, one boy sometimes gets in a bad mood, he'll say, 'I'm not your friend,'" Clemens said. "Then the other kids all say to him, 'but we're all friends here.'"
And that's how it goes, with everyone at Clemens' child care looking after each other.
Photo: From left to right, R. Maggie Lopez, Susan Austin and Gloria Clemens at the October 26th rally in Long Beach, where family child care providers demonstrated in front of the Women's Conference to ask Governor Schwarzenegger to extend Stage 3 child care funding. The cuts have been halted by a judge through the end of the year.
* Name changed for privacy.