Child Care

June 14, 1972

Report Outline
Child Care and National Politics
Sporadic Growth of Day-Care Services
Problems and Prospects for Child Care
Special Focus

Child Care and National Politics

Increase in Working Mothers and Day-Care Needs

Day care for children, a social issue already thrust into the political arena, is destined to become increasingly important in the years ahead. Enthusiasts see it as a way of reducing welfare costs, giving many young children opportunities they would not have otherwise for mental, physical and emotional development, and allowing women from all income levels to seek work outside the home. Opponents argue that day care promotes a communal rather than a family approach to child rearing, that it can be psychologically harmful, especially to very young children, that it encourages more women to enter an already crowded labor force, and finally that the cost of providing quality day-care services to all who want or even need them would be prohibitive.

One fact stands out amid the arguments: the number of child-care facilities is inadequate for the growing demand. The Office of Child Development in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) reports that there are more than five million children of pre-school age whose mothers work. The total capacity of licensed public and private day-care facilities is less than 700,000. This means that the vast majority of working mothers must make other arrangements for the care of their children when they are on the job.

Government-sponsored studies have revealed that almost half of the under-six children were cared for at home—by fathers who often worked night shifts and spent much of the day sleeping, by older children and untrained babysitters. Others went with their mothers to work and amused themselves as best they could. Still others were left with neighbors or relatives where the only stimulation might be the television set. Most disturbing of all, thousands of pre-school children fended for themselves without any adult supervision.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Child Care
Jul. 20, 2018  Foster Care
May 08, 1998  Child-Care Options
Dec. 17, 1993  Child Care
May 06, 1983  Day-Care Needs
Jun. 14, 1972  Child Care
Jul. 07, 1965  Child Day Care and Working Mothers
Early Childhood Education
Women in the Workplace
Work and the Family