Children's Interests/Mothers' Rights


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The Shaping of America`s Child Care Policy

Sonya Michel

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Why is the United States one of the few advanced democratic market societies that do not offer child care as a universal public benefit or entitlement? This book—a comprehensive history of child care policy and practices in the United States from the colonial period to the present—shows why the current child care system evolved as it has and places its history within a broad comparative context.

Drawing on a full range of archival material, Sonya Michel shows how child care policy in the United States was shaped by changing theories of child development and early childhood education, attitudes toward maternal employment, and conceptions of the proper roles of low-income and minority women. And she argues that the present policy—erratic, inadequate, and stigmatized—is typical of the American way of doing welfare.

Sonya Michel is Director of the Gender and Women’s Studies Program and professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"This book is indispensable for understanding why child care, a painful problem for millions of American parents, gets pushed again and again to the politician’s back burner. Michel’s well-told history is remarkably relevant to the policy questions we face today."—Barbara R. Bergmann, Professor Emerita of Economics, University of Maryland and American University

"Sonya Michel gives readers a well-written, thoroughly researched, and strongly argued history of child care policies and programs in United States history. I am especially impressed by the way that she places American developments in the context of international developments over the past century. Her book has much to say about the ways in which American policies are exceptional in such a context."—James T. Patterson, Ford Foundation Professor of History, Brown University

“This important book sets the historical context for the current debate on family values, working mothers, and childcare.”—Lynn Weiner, author of From Working Girl to Working Mother

"This carefully researched book illuminates our historical understanding of why taxpayer supported child care and equal rights for women have both been so contested. Anyone who is interested in how to gain the support our children need while protecting women’s opportunities should read this book."—Mary Frances Berry, Geraldine Segal Professor of American Social Thought, Professor of History, and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania

"In this superbly researched study, Michel seeks to understand why the US, alone of the democratic market societies, has failed to develop a comprehensive system of public day care. . . . An important book for social welfare historians, women’s studies scholars, and policy makers. All levels."—Choice

"Michel . . . shows how government, philanthropists, educational reformers, and social welfare professionals interacted to shape evolving policies. . . . [This book] offers the most complete history of government and voluntary agency efforts."—Library Journal

“Michel’s scholarship is impressive, and in her meticulously researched history of American debates about day care she tries energetically to get beyond the dichotomy that simplifies and distorts those debates: the opposition between ‘children’s interests’ and ‘women’s rights. . . . Michel presents a wealth of useful information.”—Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn, New Republic

"[Michel] provides a nuanced picture of the national debates that is informed by an appreciation of the social science, as well as the historical, literature and by a knowledge of developments over time in other countries. . . . Michel shows the way in which the public/private mix that effectively stratifies United States [child-care] provision has been reformulated and reinvented over time."—Jane Lewis, Journal of American History

Children’s Interests/Mothers’ Rights is a valuable contribution to knowledge, impressive in the range and depth of its scholarship and vigorously argued. No college library can afford to be without this work and no historian of social welfare or social policy can afford to ignore it.”—Joseph M. Hawes, History of Education Quarterly

“This is a vitally important book, not only for students of gender and welfare states, but for all students of U.S. politics, policy, and gender relations.”—Felicia Kornbluh, Duke University

“[An] important book on U.S. social policy toward mothers.”—Robyn Muncy, Journal of Women’s History

“This important book combines masterful narrative of the history of child care services in the U.S within a theoretically rich comparative and feminist analytic framework. It is an invaluable resource for students of social policy and gender equality.”—Gwendolyn Mink, American Historical Review

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine
ISBN: 9780300085518
Publication Date: September 10, 2000
432 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
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