Child care reforms advocated
by Gertrude Barnstone
and Rhonda Griffin-Boone
Child care comes easy for the
family on television's "Little
House on the Prairie." Both
mother and father supervise the
children and are available when
Now, though, most people have
to leave home to work.
And, as one of the foremost
advocates of child care put it,
"You can't work and take care of
your kids at the same time."
Marie Oser, director of Child
Care '76, first became involved in
the issue of child care through
her work in the Headstart
Program and later through the
Child Development Council of
Child Care '76 was a concept
launched in 1973, with the idea of
focusing the Bicentennial on the
needs of families with children.
The group acts not as a direct
service, but as consultants,
working to help people reorder
their priorities to include child
care at the top of the list.
"Our purpose is to help local
communities understand and be
more articulate in the area of
family and child services," Oser
said. "We assist in program
development and help expand
services already available."
The basic issue of child care
concerns the kinds of policies the
U.S. should have toward family
and children; Oser said. Most
emphasis has been on day care
and poor people, but the issue
itself is much broader.
"On one hand you have the
proposed food stamp bill
requiring mothers to work," Oser
pointed out. "But where is the
child care enabling them to go to
work. Then you have apartments
in more affluent neighborhoods
which won't rent to families
because unsupervised children
are a problem. But why are they
"Society says the family
members should be responsible
for themselves and surely one
way to do that is to work," Oser
went on. "But you can't work and
take care of your kids at the same
Oser feels there are ways to
handle this problem, if we decide
that "families are important and
rearing children is critical." She
says that people are upset over a
"drop in reading or test scores,"
but their only response is "to add
another program or a little more
The important thing, she says,
is to reaffirm the importance of
the family unit and to establish a
sense of community.
"People don't really watch out
for each other now," Oser said.
"In this country, and especially
in Texas, we have a hang-up on
the philosophy of the 'self-made
person'. We promote the idea that
you're on your own.
"But nobody does anything
alone, really. It doesn't matter
where you live. You've got to
have support systems."
Oser feels that society's
mobility has prevented people
from establishing such support
systems, and she's not sure it's
any better in states outside
Texas. She feels the university
setting is the "most operative"
because people within the
university have a "real sense of
community " and while Texas
goes a "long way on the individual thing, there are
strangely, some communities
that really hang together
politically; communities where
the decision makers form a tight
circle, but where most people are
Come in to see
and Sarah Pappas
Citing examples set by other
countries in regard to child care,
Oser pointed out that in Israel
and China, children are
everyone's responsibility. If a
child in one of these countries
goes to the grocery store, the
storekeeper feels responsible and
helps the child.
"Educationally their schools
are what we consider backward
and grotesque," Oser said. "But
there is a caring for the child. On
the other hand, in Russia as in
America, children are very often
ridiculed by teachers and adults!'
Stressing the need of such
responsibility for children, Oser
said day care facilities were
"Many children have died in
fires while their mothers were
out working," she said. "People
say you are responsible for
taking care of your children;
that it's no one else's responsibility.
"I differ. I feel we do have a
responsibility to each other," she
said. "Certainly our defense
policy speaks to that. We have
decided since our country began
that it's important to defend each
other. People go to war and die to
look out for other people, but
what is more fundamental than
Child support is "iffy," Oser
pointed out. The average
woman's income is $3600 and
women have the responsibility
for the children, so "there you
have it. Women and children are
at the bottom of the heap."
Child Care '76 wants people to
make the connection between
elected politicians and children,
Oser said. While most people feel
the government's role is to
provide the money, Oser said the
government should be the
planners, the catalyst - not the
actual provider of services.
In Austin, for example, the city
uses its own funds as part of the
matching money for federally
funded programs. But in Houston
the city government doesn't put
"If the city did provide money,
we would be eligible for three
times as much," Oser said. "We
put up federal funds for day care
match on a three-to-one basis."
In not contributing funds for
expanded day care facilities,
Oser said that the City of
Houston's reasoning is "they
don't want to start something
they can't finish.
"It's true that some programs
have started and dropped by the
wayside," she said. "But if it's
good and you've got a service
people really need, then you stay.
If it's not good, you pass on to
something else. Let the law of
supply and demand operate in
this area also."
Oser feels it's important for
interested individuals and groups
to let Child Care '76 know their
concerns in the field of child care.
"We've found that one of the
real impediments to the whole
thing is that people feel very
alone," she said. "Again, we've
got no sense of community.
People think 'It's my problem if I
can't take care of my kids.' Also,
a lot of people who have these
problems are not used to looking
to government to solve any of
them. We really have a pretty
mixed up idea of what 'government' is.
"It goes back to the consent of
the governed," Oser said.
"People who have not really
participated in the system don't
understand that the government
is theirs and it should be
responsive to them.
"At lot of people don't want the
government in any way involved
in their family life and that's a
choice, a life style.
"But government," she said,
"is only what we let it be."
Pousson wins bike race
Rachel Pousson, of San Antonio, pedaled off with first place
in the April Fools Stage Race last
month in Houston's Memorial
Representing the San Antonio
Bicycle Racing Club, Pousson,
astride a Colnago bike, punched
in a sharp 39.58 for the fifteen
Runners-up in this senior
women's class event included
Reba Costlow, Dallas Bicycle
Club, placing second; Jan Mc-
Clure, Austin Bicycle Club,
showing third; and Isabel
Zsohar, also from the San Antonio Bicycle Racing Club,
coming in fourth.
Pousson's win in the Houston
event is particularly commendable, as she suffers from
chondromalacia, a softening and
wearing down of the cartilage at
the kneecap, coupled with a
chronic dislocation of the
kneecap. The disease, which is
common with runners, has not
hampered her effort toward
championship racing. She
manages to ride up to 250 miles a
week every week.
Pousson bicycles to her job as a
life model for art students. She is
a health food enthusiast,
adhering to a diet of fruits, nuts
and vegetables. She also believes
in the beneficial effects of
Pousson's goal is to race with
"It irks me that the guys in my
club seem to think that if I win
women's races, I shouldn't want
for any more," she said She also
m admits to deriving a "delicious
pleasure winning over men."