This past decade has been financially tough for a lot of families. In many areas of the country, things are starting to look up. But most of us still have a ways to go before we've fully recovered. This has impacted every facet of the American lifestyle. It has effected what we eat, what we drive, where we go on vacation, and even whether or not we go to the doctor's office when we need to.

It has also greatly affected childcare, in both the demand and the available options.

Fewer middle class families can survive on just one income. With mom and dad putting in their hours in the work place, what do we do about the children? Especially the ones too young to go to school, and, ironically, in need of the most care?

It is very much the proverbial rock and hard place: families can't afford for one parent to stay home, nor can they afford decent child care so that they can both work. What options does that leave us in our search for affordable childcare?

Private childcare, or a nanny, is ideal for most families. They want one-on-one attention for their children, and consistent dependable care. But it is more expensive to pay one person to look after one family of children, than it is to pay an establishment to look after many children all day long.

Enter daycare centers. There is a place for daycare centers. They are a blessing for many and some are actually quite impressive. But like so many things in life, you get what you pay for. So for the families already struggling to make ends meet, They are left with the bottom of the barrel. Where the germs, and the over-worked, underpaid employees live.

There are people who offer childcare in their homes. These offer less kids and chaos, and many states have strict regulations regarding the number of children the environment of at-home day care. But I'd be lying if I said that all of these homes were registered with the state, or adhere to the required child/care giver ratio. And the cheaper it gets the more likely you are to end up in such a home or in a rough part of town. These are the options when you are trying to make minimum wage to feed your children.

There are private nannies out there willing to watch children for peanuts in terms of pay, but that in itself raises eyebrows. Some are stay-at-home moms looking to make a little extra money and help out a family, but these saints of the childcare system aren't as abundant some would like them to be.

So how can middle-class parents go to work in good faith? Leaving there kids with people they may or may not trust in an environment that may or may not be safe? It so easy to make judgments about these careless parents who leave their children in these situations, but for many, the options a limited.

Blessed are those who can leave their children with grandma, or an expensive preschool, or private nanny. Lucky are those who are able and willing to stay at home with them. But what about the rest of the middle class? And in particular, what about the rest of the children?