Q. Our congregation is growing steadily and one of the most significant aspects of our growth is the addition of many young parents. To make it easier for them to participate we provide child care for most church functions. It costs money, of course, and some members feel the parents should be paying some or all of the costs. I don't agree, but would appreciate some other opinions.
A. Congregations have a responsibility to provide child care, believes Kathy Partridge, board member, Unitarian Universalist (UU) Fellowship of Boulder, CO (179), who asks, "Do we charge extra for visits to the sick and elderly by the pastor or the Caring Committee? These services benefit the elder generation more than younger folk. My view is that we should model a society where the needs of all members are assumed and supported by all other members. Young families need help with babysitting (our future generation of UUs) while elders need home visits (which in our congregation include visits from these young UUs!). Our children and elders must belong to our entire religious society for it to be a healthy, affirming, and growing community."
Beth Atkinson, president of First UU Church in Rochester, MN (288), also believes that the congregation has a responsibility to provide child care, but parents have an obligation too. She notes that parents who sign up for small group sessions, such as adult education classes, but then don't show up, can create the awkward situation of the congregation having hired a sitter who then has nothing to do.