Raising Wilshire's Grandparents

Blogoir about caregiving for Asian American immigrant parents

An Inside Look Into Our Search for Child Care for Our Baby

There was never doubt in my mind that I would return to work after the birth of my first child. I loved my job, revered my boss, and took immense pride in my work in public service. We also live in the LA area, and the high cost of housing required both of our incomes. And lastly, I didn’t want to stop working. Even if I were to leave my full time job, I realized I would still want to fill my time with other unpaid work, such as board service or being active in local politics. So, the million dollar question for me was: who would take care of our child while we worked?

These questions are immensely personal. Our values, education, and timeline for returning to work weighed heavily into the decisions we eventually made to send our son to a family-run child care.

Here’s what I advise any expecting parent.

With your partner, agree on your “musts” – and remember what your “musts” may shift over time.  These were ours at the start of our search:

Hours – they had to be long enough since I worked a 9/80.

Location: We are a one-car family, and traffic (pre-COVID) is usually very bad, so ideally daycare would be near home or my office in Downtown Santa Monica.

Program Quality. I had to feel good about the provider and vice versa. 

Other factors may matter more for you. These are some to consider:

  • Availability. Will there be an opening for your child when you have to return to work? As Santa Monica Councilmember Gleam Davis often points out, parents – disproportionately women – often postpone their return to work due to a lack of childcare, which has profound impacts on earnings and financial security.
  • Price. Because money does not grow on trees.
  • Religious Affiliation or Pedagogy: Montessori! Reggio Familia! Church or Synagogue!
  • Languages Spoken. Ours is Spanish dual immersion.
  • Center vs In-Home Day Care. Centers might have longer hours, but usually cost more and have fewer infant spaces. 
  • Documentation Status.  You can get in trouble for hiring an undocumented immigrant as a nanny. But childcare is also expensive, as the U.S. invests very little in it. And because of tremendous demand, immigrant women make up the majority of the domestic workforce (which includes childcare workers). 

At the end, we landed at Kennedy Family Child Care in Santa Monica, a family child care near our house.  The daycare is in a 1920s bungalow is old and it has seen better days. The center closes at 5:30 p.m., so to make this work, I had to negotiate with my employer to start work one hour earlier than everybody else. For years, I was that person who left 60 to 90 minutes before the rest of my team (all childless). KFCC was actually our third stop. We tried two other family child cares. One couldn’t give us full time hours in time for me to return to work. The second was a disaster for our family. More on that another time!

Child Care Resources

  1. Contact your local Childcare Resource and Referral Organization. For Westsiders, it’s Connections for Children, a 501(c)3 that will provide a sheet of licensed childcare providers.

What can you do to help?

  1. Pay on time
  2. Get to work on time
  3. Ask questions
  4. Advocate for universal preschool
  5. Be generous

Updates 9/9

Because caregiving never ends

My mom has been very busy as a Census door knocker for the past two weeks. She’s been assigned to work in Ocean Park but will transition soon to a community that needs her native Thai language skills. I am so stinking proud of her. She took a suggestion from Juan that was on a lark, and ran with it.

This work has been grueling – hours on foot, through heat waves and mediocre air quality. It’s different from her prior jobs in catering sales. Where could she go from here? I’m imagining door knocking for political organizing.

My dad… got his hip replacement after all, but in Bangkok. The steps for coordinating his PT and custodial care there was so much less taxing. My sister is easier on herself, and did not find reasons to hate everyone she encountered in coordinating this the way I did, because they worked for Kaiser and had shitty customer service. My sister asked one of our cousins for recommendations, and made things happen. Dad was hospitalized for four nights, and his PT started immediately in his recovery room. Then he transferred to a rehab facility recommended by his surgical team.

Back in the US, I would have been completely on my own to arrange his recovery. Kaiser, my father’s insurer, handed me a printed brochure of licensed rehabs and congregate living facilities, and told me good luck. His coverage included 100 days of free skilled nursing but Kaiser made it clear he would not be availed of it. He needed round the clock care and I would have had to arrange the home health aides myself, and to pay for it out of pocket. I also would have had to arrange his transportation for PT and all of his meals. Lastly, this was supposed to go down in March during COVID. The Kaiser model assumed everyone had a loving caretaker without a job.

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Sirinya’s Update: Caregiving!

Since November 2019, I’ve been in the throes of caregiving for my parents – including my dad, with whom I’d been estranged for nearly 10 years.

This all started first with my mother, when she declared she was done with homeownership and wanted to move near us on the Westside.

I had to turn my attention to my dad. It wasn’t sustainable for my mom to carry the house and rent somewhere else. But I didn’t know what would happen to my dad. I didn’t like it, but I had to dive in head first to deal with him.

Many of you know that I was estranged from my father for nearly ten years. Worrying about my father, and the devastating impacts of gambling addiction on our family, was ruining me emotionally. With the help of a therapist, I located resources, offered to pay for them, and gave him a hard deadline to accept it. I stated specifically if he did not accept, we would become estranged. He blew it. So estrangement started.

Estrangement was good for me. It felt taboo at first, but then I began owning my truth, especially after finding mentors who were empathetic and shared in the sorrow in this corner of my life. I became comfortable telling more people, in a straightforward manner, that I was estranged from my dad because he was a gambling addict who refused treatment. In the intervening years, I was able to strengthen my marriage, secure a career in public service, buy a home, have a kid, and make more friends. In other words, I was able to build a life, the kind of life that I imagined I could have but seemed so far off, even when my father was at his most destructive.

One tactic my father has deployed to stall any kind of movement on the housing front was his need for surgery, including day-of transportation. My mom set her boundaries clearly and said no. After a lot of discussion with my husband and my therapist, I agreed to step in and said yes. This blog catches up my friends and loved ones on my journey.

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Blog Name Change: Raising Wilshire is now “Raising Wilshire’s Grandparents”

Follow my journey in caregiving for my parents and neighborfriends

Here I am on the back of a golf cart at Kaiser Permanente in their Panorama City campus. Thankfully they had trams to help transport people around their large campus because there’s no way my dad could’ve walked the vast distances.

Because if being a full time working mother isn’t hard enough, try adding caregiving for older adults to the mix. Between my mom, my dad, and my neighbors (about half of them are over age 60), I have my hands full.

My husband and I are proud AARP-card members of the sandwich generation.

Along the journey, I’ll talk about the issues I’m encountering in supporting my parents and helping them navigate their various medical, housing, and financial issues.

Wilshire Thanks You for Vaccinating Your Child

Vaccination rates are up overall in California (yay) – but not in Santa Monica. The number of kindergartners enrolled in school in Santa Monica actually fell this past school year (2018-2019), according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. This is disturbing. But a classic parenting approach calls for doling out praise as positive reinforcement. Therefore, Wilshire and I wish to thank the families who have taken shown the conviction to fully vaccinate their kids, and taken the time to report it properly to their children’s schools.

Kindergarten Vaccination Rates around Santa Monica and West LA during the 2018-2019 School Year.
These places should ALL be green, but they are not.

I also want to call out some impressive turnarounds from the 2017-2018 school year.

  • SMASH: This past year, over 95% of your kindergartners were properly vaccinated, up twenty entire percentage points. This is really interesting to me because it means I can actually seriously consider sending my child to your school. 
  • Citizens of the World/Mar Vista: Your rate is up from 66% to 92%. While not at herd immunity, you’ve made major progress!

This is what Santa Monica preschool vaccination rates look like. But given the kind of school-level scrutiny one can take here, it seems noteworthy to call out the schools that are actively trying to turn it around, like PS1 did a few years back.

Vaccination rates at Santa Monica preschools

Some other observations:

Which schools are more likely to lack herd immunity? Generally speaking, there’s a loose correlation between rates and wealth. Consider the story that can be told with these screengrabs from Santa Monica vs Van Nuys:

Santa Monica
Van Nuys

But there’s no fast-and-heavy rule about that.

What continues to be the only logical explanation for these disparities? It’s the State’s suspicion that there are families who are abusing the medical exemption provision of California’s current vaccination law – and doctors who are enabling this. 

As I’ve written before, we know that California’s existing vaccination law has made a substantial difference in keeping Californians safe. Vaccines are critical to maintaining health and wellbeing. Vaccines prevent diseases that cause real harm. When families decide against vaccinations for their healthy children, they chip away at community immunity which protects our neighbors and friends who legitimately cannot be vaccinated. We continue to need the power of state government to close these loopholes before we have yet another outbreak, and I hope SB 276 passes really soon.

East Coast Adventure 2018: Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Syracuse!

We made it the northern edge of one of the Finger Lakes

After spending two days in Toronto, we took a MegaBus across the border Buffalo, NY, and spent the weekend in Western and Central New York. Along the way, we crossed more things off our bucket list.

East Coast Adventure 2018: Wrap Up

Through this trip, we were able to check off a lot of things on our bucket list. They included visiting Toronto and seeing my CTY friends in New York. Overall, we had a wonderful trip and are looking forward to traveling with our son again soon.

There were two other things I think that we did well.

East Coast Adventure: Toronto! (Part 1)

We started our East Coast Adventure last month by flying on West Jet to Toronto, Canada, where we spent two nights with our friends Tremor and Julia. (Tremor was in my macroeconomics class at Pomona College). What impressed me most while we were traveling from the airport and into downtown Toronto, where our friends live, was the skyline.

Will’s first night in Toronto

High rises and crane trucks during the day. Click photo to enlarge.

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