My Fellow Americans: Child Care in the Windy City

As part of our occasional feature "My Fellow Americans," producer Jenny Lawton profiles Chicago child care worker Veronica Carr. The profile is part of an exhibit called Daily Meaning: Life Inside America's Service Industries, developed in cooperation with Chicago Public Radio.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

It's DAY TO DAY. I'm Noah Adams.

It is commonplace now for families to have two working parents or one single parent who needs someone else to look after the kids. Children sometimes spend almost as much time with their baby sitter, nanny or preschool teacher as they do with their own parents. As part of our occasional series My Fellow Americans, we have the story of one child-care worker who says her work is her calling.

Ms. VERONICA CARR (Child-Care Worker): My name is Veronica Carr. I've been working in early childhood for about 21 years. Actually, I've been working with kids since I was about nine, baby-sitting. I was a kid myself, but I was baby-sitting and working with kids, doing their hair. So I've been around kids all my life. And I enjoy--I just enjoy being around kids. I enjoy working with kids. I enjoy being around kids. That's my life. That's my life.

Ms. CARR and Group of Children: (Singing in unison) E-I-E-I-O.

Ms. CARR: (Singing) Look who came to school today...

Ms. CARR and Group of Children: (Singing in unison) Javarius(ph), Javarius. Look who came to school today, Javarius.

Ms. CARR: Home day cares to me are the best care because it's a small environment. It's more personal. It's usually eight kids, 12 at the most. And there's no way you can get as personal in a school setting as you can in a home setting.

Very good, Javarius! And Jasmine(ph) and Janelle(ph) and Shanelle(ph) and Ms. Shakya(ph) and Ms. Carr came to school today. Yea!

(Soundbite of excited child)

Ms. CARR: Put yourself in the child's position. Come out of the adulthood and go into the childhood and you understand why they're going through this. So why are they doing this? So why are they crying? If you had something in your hand and a child just came up and snatched it and took it from you, you know, emotionally it hurts you. So instead of saying, like, `You don't have to cry. You're not no baby. You know, why are you crying?' put yourself in the child's perspective. 'Cause the simple things in children's life is the most important things to them. You have to understand children in order to work with them and know them. You have to. It don't take much. It don't take much to please kids. It really don't. You have to show love and affection, mm-hmm.

Hey, little bobba.

(Soundbite of baby)

Ms. CARR: And, like, one of the girls was out. She said, `I miss you so much, Ms. Carr. I was with my mom and I really miss you.' I said, `I miss you so much, so much.' She said, `I'll be here tomorrow.' And I said, `OK, and I'll be happy tomorrow.' She said, `OK.' But if a child knows that you love and care about them, they'll learn.

(Soundbite of baby)

Ms. CARR: You talking again?

One of the students I had, she was very aggressive in class. She was--I had her when she was four. But she was very smart, intelligent, but real busy, so you couldn't keep her sitting still. And I watched her growing and I seen her three weeks ago, and she was so settled and calm now, you know? And she's some beautiful. And I said, `Oh, Taylor(ph), I'm so proud of you!' She said, `Thank you, Ms. Carr, because you know you was my best teacher.' 'Cause I stuck with her. But you have to still show love no matter how hyper they are. They remember that. I felt so good, you know? I just--tears just started running down my eye. I just felt so good 'cause when you know you have helped someone help a child, it means a lot. It means a lot.

ADAMS: That is Chicago child-care worker Veronica Carr. Her profile was produced by Chicago Public Radio's Jenny Lawton as part of a multimedia exhibit called "Daily Meaning: Life Inside America's Service Industries."

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