The child care system in the United States is widely criticized, yet the underlying structural problems are difficult to pin down. In The Child Care Problem, David M. Blau sets aside the often emotional terms of the debate and applies a rigorous economic analysis to the state of the child care system in this country, arriving at a surprising diagnosis of the root of the problem. Blau approaches child care as a service that is bought and sold in markets, addressing such questions as: What kinds of child care are available? Is good care really hard to find? How do costs affect the services families choose? Why are child care workers underpaid relative to other professions? He finds that the child care market functions much better than is commonly believed. The supply of providers has kept pace with the number of mothers entering the workforce, and costs remain relatively modest. Yet most families place a relatively low value on high-quality child care, and are unwilling to pay more for better care. Blau sees this lack of demand—rather than the market's inadequate supply—as the cause of the nation's child care dilemma. The Child Care Problem also faults government welfare policies—which treat child care subsidies mainly as a means to increase employment of mothers, but set no standards regarding the quality of child care their subsidies can purchase. Blau trains an economic lens on research by child psychologists, evaluating the evidence that the day care environment has a genuine impact on early development. The failure of families and government to place a priority on improving such critical conditions for their children provides a compelling reason to advocate change. The Child Care Problem concludes with a balanced proposal for reform. Blau outlines a systematic effort to provide families of all incomes with the information they need to make more prudent decisions. And he suggests specific revisions to welfare policy, including both an allowance to defray the expenses of families with children, and a child care voucher that is worth more when used for higher quality care. The Child Care Problem provides a straightforward evaluation of the many contradictory claims about the problems with child care, and lays out a reasoned blueprint for reform which will help guide both social scientists and non-academics alike toward improving the quality of child care in this country.
Early care and education for many children in the United States is in crisis. The period between birth and kindergarten is a critical time for child development, and socioeconomic disparities that begin early in children’s lives contribute to starkly different long-term outcomes for adults. Yet, compared to other advanced economies, high-quality child care and preschool in the United States are scarce and prohibitively expensive for many middle-class and most disadvantaged families. To what extent can early-life interventions provide these children with the opportunities that their affluent peers enjoy and contribute to reduced social inequality in the long term? Cradle to Kindergarten offers a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy that diagnoses the obstacles to accessible early education and charts a path to opportunity for all children.
The U.S. government invests less in children under the age of five than do most other developed nations. Most working families must seek private childcare, which means that children from low-income households, who would benefit most from high-quality early education, are the least likely to attend them. Existing policies, such as pre-kindergarten in some states are only partial solutions. To address these deficiencies, the authors propose to overhaul the early care system, beginning with a federal paid parental leave policy that provides both mothers and fathers with time and financial support after the birth of a child. They also advocate increased public benefits, including an expansion of the child care tax credit, and a new child care assurance program that subsidizes the cost of early care for low- and moderate-income families. They also propose that universal, high-quality early education in the states should start by age three, and a reform of the Head Start program that would include more intensive services for families living in areas of concentrated poverty and experiencing multiple adversities from the earliest point in these most disadvantaged children’s lives. They conclude with an implementation plan and contend that these reforms are attainable within a ten-year timeline.
Reducing educational and economic inequalities requires that all children have robust opportunities to learn, fully develop their capacities, and have a fair shot at success. Cradle to Kindergarten presents a blueprint for fulfilling this promise by expanding access to educational and financial resources at a critical stage of child development.
During World War II, as women stepped in to fill jobs vacated by men in the armed services, the federal government established public child care centers in local communities for the first time. When the government announced plans to withdraw funding and terminate its child care services at the end of the war, women in California protested and lobbied to keep their centers open, even as these services rapidly vanished in other states.
Analyzing the informal networks of cross-class and cross-race reformers, policymakers, and educators, Demanding Child Care: Women's Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940–1971 traces the rapidly changing alliances among these groups. During the early stages of the childcare movement, feminists, Communists, and labor activists banded together, only to have these alliances dissolve by the 1950s as the movement welcomed new leadership composed of working-class mothers and early childhood educators. In the 1960s, when federal policymakers earmarked child care funds for children of women on welfare and children described as culturally deprived, it expanded child care services available to these groups but eventually eliminated public child care for the working poor.
Deftly exploring the possibilities for partnership as well as the limitations among these key parties, Fousekis helps to explain the barriers to a publically funded comprehensive child care program in the United States.
The Erosion of Childhood
Valerie Polakow University of Chicago Press, 1992 Library of Congress HQ792.U5P65 1992 | Dewey Decimal 305.23
How can child care be structured to protect both the interests of children and the rights of women? Must children suffer the "loss" of their childhood through institutional care? Polakow uses her observations of pre-school centers—including profit-run, federally funded, community, and Montessori institutions—to open the "windows of daycare."
Though women’s employment patterns in Europe have been changing drastically over several decades, the repercussions of this social revolution are just beginning to garner serious attention. Many scholars have presumed that diversity and change in women’s employment is based on the structures of welfare states and women’s responses to economic incentives and disincentives to join the workforce; How Welfare States Care provides in-depth analysis of women’s employment and childcare patterns, taxation, social security, and maternity leave provisions in order to show this logic does not hold. Combining economic, sociological, and psychological insights, Kremer demonstrates that care is embedded in welfare states and that European women are motivated by culturally and morally-shaped ideals of care that are embedded in welfare states—and less by economic reality.
Does government spend too little or too much on child care? How can education dollars be spent more efficiently? Should government's role in medical care increase or decrease? In this volume, social scientists, lawyers, and a physician explore the political, social, and economic forces that shape policies affecting human services.
Four in-depth studies of human-service sectors—child care, education, medical care, and long-term care for the elderly—are followed by six cross-sector studies that stimulate new ways of thinking about human services through the application of economic theory, institutional analysis, and the history of social policy.
The contributors include Kenneth J. Arrow, Martin Feldstein, Victor Fuchs, Alan M. Garber, Eric A. Hanushek, Christopher Jencks, Seymour Martin Lipset, Glenn Loury, Roger G. Noll, Paul M. Romer, Amartya Sen, and Theda Skocpol.
This timely study sheds important light on the tension between individual and social responsibility, and will appeal to economists and other social scientists and policymakers concerned with social policy issues.
As ever more women work outside the home, ever more families employ childcare workers. In the absence of government regulations or social models that clearly define the childcare provider’s role, mothers worry about the quality of care their children are getting. By connecting the personal level of mothers’ daily experiences to the larger political, economic, and ideological context of childcare, Lynet Uttal describes and explains how mothers rely on their relationship with the providers to monitor and influence the quality of care their children receive. Whereas other studies have emphasized how mothers undervalue and exploit providers, this book paints a more nuanced picture, arguing that the ties between adults who share in the care of children creates neither heroes nor victims. This ethnography reveals that mothers are often reluctant to discuss their concerns with their childcare providers. Uttal shows how mothers walk a fine line between wanting to believe in the quality of care they have chosen, and the fact that they might have made a mistake. Catalyzed by their worries about the quality of care, mothers develop complex relationships with the women—and most are women—who look after their children.
Honorable Mention from the American Sociological Association Race, Gender, and Class Section Book Awards Committee
The 1946 publication of Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care signaled the pervasive influence of expert 'medicalized motherhood' in mid-twentieth-century America. Throughout the previous two decades, pediatricians and women's magazines alike advised mothers of the importance of physicians' guidance for the everyday care of their children, and Spock's book popularized this advice, particularly among white, middle-class women.
When Jacquelyn S. Litt interviewed African-American and Jewish women who raised their children in the 1930s and 1940s, she found that these women responded to experts' advice in ways uniquely shaped by their ethnicity, race, and class. For middle-class African-American and Jewish women, medicalization took place in ethnically/racially segregated networks and functioned as a collectively held strategy for social advance as much as a set of technical practices for raising healthy children. For poor, single African-American mothers, everyday networks offered limited access to medical institutions or mainstream norms. Medical discourse was largely controlled by white women and men, which left these women disempowered in medical institutions and marginal to dominant definitions of acceptable mothering.
Litt's book is enriched with many narratives from the mothers themselves. Both the women's voices and her acute sociological research bring to light how medicalized motherhood, while not the single cause of difference and inequality among the women, was a site where they were produced.
In the five years following the passage of federal welfare reform law, the labor force participation of low-income, single mothers with young children climbed by more than 25 percent. With significantly more hours spent outside the home, single working mothers face a serious childcare crunch—how can they provide quality care for their children? In Putting Children First, Ajay Chaudry follows 42 low-income families in New York City over three years to illuminate the plight of these mothers and the ways in which they respond to the difficult challenge of providing for their children's material and developmental needs with limited resources. Using the words of the women themselves, Chaudry tells a startling story. Scarce subsidies, complicated bureaucracies, inflexible work schedules, and limited choices force families to piece together care arrangements that are often unstable, unreliable, inconvenient, and of limited quality. Because their wages are so low, these women are forced to rely on inexpensive caregivers who are often under-qualified to serve the developmental needs of their children. Even when these mothers find good, affordable care, it rarely lasts long because their volatile employment situations throw their needs into constant flux. The average woman in Chaudry's sample had to find five different primary caregivers in her child's first four years, while over a quarter of them needed seven or more in that time. This book lets single, low-income mothers describe the childcare arrangements they desire and the ways that options available to them fail to meet even their most basic needs. As Chaudry tracks these women through erratic childcare spells, he reveals the strategies they employ, the tremendous costs they incur and the anxiety they face when trying to ensure that their children are given proper care. Honest, powerful, and alarming, Putting Children First gives a fresh perspective on work and family for the disadvantaged. It infuses a human voice into the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of welfare reform, showing the flaws of a social policy based solely on personal responsibility without concurrent societal responsibility, and suggesting a better path for the future.
In this important work, Joan Lombardi, one of Americas foremost experts on child care, shows how our current system is not meeting the needs of America's families and describes a vision for redesigning this system to promote healthy child and youth development. Both as an expert and as a parent, the author guides the reader through the problems that face the current child care system and outlines the possible solutions. Drawing on the most recent innovations from across the country, she offers fresh ideas for improving the quality and availability of child care, both for young children and those in after school programs.From renewal of welfare reform to the administration's efforts to promote literacy, debate at both the state and federal levels about child care will continue for the foreseeable future. Joan Lombardi shows how to bridge the gap between early education and child care by taking advantage of the hours that children spend in care to encourage child and youth development and by creating a system of program and community supports to improve quality.
What Children Need
Jane Waldfogel Harvard University Press, 2010 Library of Congress HQ767.9.W35 2006 | Dewey Decimal 649.1
What do children need to grow and develop? And how can their needs be met when parents work? Emphasizing the importance of parental choice, quality of care, and work opportunities, economist Jane Waldfogel guides readers through the maze of social science research evidence to offer comprehensive answers and a vision for change. Drawing on the evidence, Waldfogel proposes a bold new plan to better meet the needs of children in working families, from birth through adolescence, while respecting the core values of choice, quality, and work:,Allow parents more flexibility to take time off work for family responsibilities;,Break the link between employment and essential family benefits;,Give mothers and fathers more options to stay home in the first year of life;,Improve quality of care from infancy through the preschool years;,Increase access to high-quality out-of-school programs for school-aged children and teenagers.
What We Know about Childcare
Alison Clarke-Stewart and Virginia D. Allhusen Harvard University Press, 2005 Library of Congress HQ778.63.C583 2005 | Dewey Decimal 362.7120973
Nearly three-quarters of American mothers work full- or part-time--usually out of financial necessity--and require regular child care. How do such arrangements affect children? If they are not at home with their mothers, will they be badly behaved, intellectually delayed, or emotionally stunted?
Backed by the best current research, Alison Clarke-Stewart and Virginia Allhusen bring a reassuring answer to parents' fears and offer guidance for making difficult decisions. Quality child care, they show, may be even more beneficial to children than staying at home. Although children who spend many hours in care may be unruly compared with children at home, those who attend quality programs tend to be cognitively ahead of their peers. They are just as attached to their mothers and reap the additional benefits of engaging with other children.
Ultimately, it's parents who matter most; what happens at home makes the difference in how children develop. And today's working mothers actually spend more time interacting with their children than stay-at-home mothers did a generation ago.
An economy that operates 24/7—as ours now does—imposes extraordinary burdens on workers. Two-fifths of all employed Americans work mostly during evenings, nights, weekends, or on rotating shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5 work day. The pervasiveness of nonstandard work schedules has become a significant social phenomenon, with important implications for the health and well-being of workers and their families. In Working in a 24/7 Economy, Harriet Presser looks at the effects of nonstandard work schedules on family functioning and shows how these schedules disrupt marriages and force families to cobble together complex child-care arrangements that should concern us all. The number of hours Americans work has received ample attention, but the issue of which hours—or days—Americans work has received much less scrutiny. Working in a 24/7 Economy provides a comprehensive overview of who works nonstandard schedules and why. Presser argues that the growth in women's employment, technological change, and other demographic changes over the past thirty years gave rise to the growing demand for late-shift and weekend employment in the service sector. She also demonstrates that most people who work these hours do so primarily because it is a job requirement, rather than a choice based on personal considerations. Presser shows that the consequences of working nonstandard schedules often differ for men and women since housework and child-rearing remain assigned primarily to women even when both spouses are employed. As with many other social problems, the burden of these schedules disproportionately affects the working poor, reflecting their lack of options in the workplace and adding to their disadvantage. Presser also documents how such work arrangements have created a new rhythm of daily life within many American families, including those with two earners and absent fathers. With spouses often not at home together in the evenings or nights, and parents often not at home with their children at such times, the relatively new concept of "home-time" has emerged as primary concern for families across the nation. Employing a wealth of empirical data, Working in a 24/7 Economy shows that nonstandard work schedules are both highly prevalent among American families and generate a level of complexity in family functioning that demands greater public attention. Presser makes a convincing case for expanded research and meaningful policy initiatives to address this growing social phenomenon.