Studying childcare on the farm

Farming is a dangerous occupation and it’s especially dangerous for children because they’re often present at the workplace. Farm parents have been spread thin through the pandemic, especially if they didn’t have anyone to watch their kids.

When weighing their options, families have to consider their farm situation and the cost for childcare. There is no perfect solution but keeping kids safe from the many hazards in a farming operation is what keeps parents up at night.

Scott Heiberger is a rural health communications specialist with the National Farm Medicine Center. He says over the next couple of years, researchers with their National Children’s Center will study childcare on the farm and how it relates to child safety.

"For the first time we’re going to do a project that takes a situation where there is accessible childcare and we’re going to follow that situation, that area for a couple of years and see if with that child care, with it being utilized, does that in fact drive down the number of injuries to kids on farms in that area. And then, compare that to an area that does not have that access to childcare," says Heiberger.

Heiberger says they will conduct interviews with farm parents and try to get a sense of their reality and what they’re facing. Once the hard data is compiled, advocates can take the information to state legislatures or even the national level.

"And say, hey look, if there is accessible childcare that farm families can tap into, you are going to see a reduction in injuries," he says. "Maybe it’s worth an agency getting behind that and making it possible if we’re asking these farm communities and farm families to feed the world, maybe it would be a good thing to try to help out as far as offering or incentivizing affordable and accessible childcare."