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Demanding Child Care

Demanding Child Care: Womens Activism and the Politics of Welfare, 1940-1971

Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Demanding Child Care
    Book Description:

    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. _x000B__x000B_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._x000B__x000B_Deftly exploring the possibilities for partnership and the limitations among these key parties as well as the structural forces impeding government support for broadly distributed child care, Fousekis helps to explain the barriers to a publicly funded comprehensive child care program in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09324-1
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1947, a recently divorced mother, whose two young children were enrolled in a publicly supported child care program that had its funding threatened, penned a letter to California Governor Earl Warren: “If there were fewer children affected by this action, I would not be writing to you. Because while this is a personal letter, it isnota personal program. There are so many of these children. Adequate care of children is the basis of things—the home, the government—even civilization itself. We cannot let the extended day care measure fall through. We must have your help.”¹ Maurine...


    • 1 Californians Secure Wartime Child Care
      (pp. 15-38)

      At 7 a.m. on June 18, 1943, fourteen children between the ages of five and eleven walked through the doors of San Francisco’s first public child care center, located in the McKinley School. The children played with dolls, stacked blocks, and read books. At noon they became members of the “clean plate club” by finishing their lunch of macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, bread, milk, and Jello.¹ By the time the last mother came to pick up her child at 7 p.m., thirty-five more children had been enrolled. The opening of the McKinley center was the culmination of four months of...

    • 2 Postwar Hopes: The Fight for Permanent Child Care, 1945–47
      (pp. 39-64)

      On August 20, 1945, just six days after Japan surrendered, the Federal Works Agency (FWA) notified the public that it would end many of its wartime services, including the Lanham Act child care centers. Big-city newspapers devoted headlines to Japan’s surrender, to soldiers returning home from the war, and to negotiating the peace. Buried in the metro and women’s sections were brief articles on the end of federally funded child care. By contrast, theDaily People’s World, the newspaper founded by California’s Communist Party (CP) and read by a wide range of progressives, featured a front-page story highlighting women’s dilemmas....


    • 3 Child Care “Is a State Problem”: Working Mothers and Educators Take Action, 1947–51
      (pp. 67-92)

      On a spring evening in 1947, thirty-four mothers assembled after work at the Van Nuys Child Care Center in Los Angeles County to draw up and sign a petition imploring Governor Earl Warren to “support an adequate Child Care program,” a permanent, state-supported program offering child care to all. They regarded the recent recommendations of a state legislative committee on child care as woefully inadequate. After holding hearings, collecting data, and listening to expert testimony, the committee had ignored the opinion of many Californians by endorsing a temporary program restricted to low-income parents. “We, the undersigned, favor continuous legislation for...

    • 4 “We Need to Stand Together”: Theresa Mahler, Mary Young, and the Coalition’s Victory in the 1950s
      (pp. 93-118)

      When asked about Theresa Mahler in 1998, Mary Young recalled, “She depended upon me for a lot.” In fact, Mahler and Young relied not only on each other but also on a wider network of mothers and educators to sustain their lobbying efforts for child care in the 1950s. During legislative sessions they spent hours on the telephone, strategizing and allocating tasks.¹ Young’s responsibilities ranged from helping to write and edit speeches to contacting parent representatives across the state and organizing letter-writing campaigns. As legislative chair for the Northern California Association for Nursery Education (NCANE), Mahler served as the key...


    • 5 “We Do Not Consider Ourselves Welfare Cases”: Education-based Child Care and Low-income Working Families, 1958–65
      (pp. 121-140)

      The passage of the Public Welfare Amendments to the Social Security Act in 1962 marked the first time since World War II that Congress had appropriated funds for child care services. These amendments were the first of many public preschool measures to be enacted in the 1960s. The goals of these new policies were twofold. First, lawmakers hoped to halt the rising cost of public assistance programs, particularly Aid to Dependent Children (ADC), which was later renamed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). They saw funding child care as a way to encourage women welfare recipients to become self-supporting....

    • 6 A Different Kind of Welfare State: California’s Child Care Coalition in the Age of Protest, 1966–71
      (pp. 141-168)

      In the fall of 1970, Lynne Monti and Willie Mae Addison composed a letter rallying the mothers in the California Parents’ Association for Children’s Centers (CPACC) to action. “This has been a bad legislative year for Children’s Centers in Sacramento,” wrote the two activist mothers. Association members needed to do more than send in dues; they needed to motivate other parents in their centers to rejoin the fight for child care.¹ The letter was occasioned by an impending major defeat for the child care coalition: the passage of a bill that moved the centers into the Department of Compensatory Education...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 169-174)

    On November 13, 1971, the California Parents’ Association for Children’s Centers (CPACC) held its twenty-third annual conference in San Francisco. It was CPACC’s first meeting since AB 750 had “change[d] the thrust” of the children’s center program and since the retirements of John Weber and Theresa Mahler. The organization struggled to readjust to the new political landscape, the loss of its experienced leaders and allies, and a changing clientele. As it had for decades, the parents’ association attracted enthusiastic people who understood the importance of the children’s centers and wanted to mobilize mothers to have a strong political voice. Ironically,...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 175-216)
  10. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 217-236)
  11. Index
    (pp. 237-245)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 246-250)