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Championing Child Care

Championing Child Care

Sally S. Cohen
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    Championing Child Care
    Book Description:

    Why has child care legislation developed along its present course? How did the political players influence lawmakers? What do the politics of child care legislation over the past thirty years indicate for the future? Based on more than one hundred interviews with legislators and executive branch officials, archival research, and secondary sources, this book looks at the politics behind child care legislation, rather than analyzing child care as a work and family issue.

    Identifying key junctures at which major child care bills were introduced and debated (1971, 1990, and 1996), Sally Cohen examines the politics surrounding each of these events and identifies the political structures and negotiations that evolved in the intervening years. In addition, Cohen looks at the impact the election of President Clinton has had on child care policymaking, and how child care legislation became part of other issues, including welfare reform, crime prevention, school readiness, and tax policy revisions.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50452-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Christopher Dodd

    During my tenure in the Senate I have been privileged to witness the extraordinary political forces that have shaped the development of federal child care policy over the past two decades. Today, when issues as diverse as tobacco control and environmental regulation routinely employ child-friendly rhetoric, it is difficult to imagine that in 1983, when Senator Arlen Specter and I established the first Senate Children’s Caucus, children’s needs were more typically an afterthought in federal policy. At that time, while limited federal involvement in education and health care had reached a general degree of acceptance, the idea of a federal...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xvii-xxii)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    Millions of parents start each day with a flurry of activity that includes placing their children safely in someone else’s hands for the rest of the day. Regardless of whether parents entrust their children to relatives, friends, or child care providers, working parents are constantly confronted with the difficulties of arranging for child care while they work. They must locate caregivers who can ensure their children’s safety and promote their development. And they must be able to afford the fees, which poses further challenges, especially for low-income working families. Most Americans agree that decisions regarding child care are best left...

  7. 2 Politics of Child Care Legislation, 1971
    (pp. 22-53)

    The child care debates of the late 1960s and early 1970s broke new ground. For the first time, lawmakers considered a national child care program separate from a wartime initiative or welfare policy. Nonetheless, each time child care had landed on the congressional agenda, whether during the Depression or the postwar years, it had generated heated discussions about working mothers and the government’s role in caring for children. By 1971 legislators and interest groups who worked on a comprehensive child care bill were confident it would become law. After all, both chambers of Congress endorsed the measure; it met the...

  8. 3 From Political Stalemate to Welfare Entitlement, 1972–1988
    (pp. 54-90)

    Throughout the 1970s advocates of a federal child care program failed to recapture the momentum of previous efforts. While legislation for such an initiative languished, proposed federal interagency child care requirements (FIDCR) generated a controversy that lasted for over a decade. At the same time, the 1970s and 1980s witnessed enormous changes in the social and economic fabric of American life. In the child care arena new organizations formed that had an impact on subsequent legislative efforts. In political circles organized interests with a conservative propensity grew in size and influence and helped elect many right-wing candidates to office. The...

  9. 4 Politics of Child Care Legislation, 1987–1990
    (pp. 91-134)

    From 1987 to 1990 the politics of enacting a federal child care program that was separate from welfare or any other federal law constituted the most significant episode for American child care policymaking in the late twentieth century. Disagreement over the responsibility of the federal government in child care policymaking resulted in three arduous and lively years of debate over the shape of child care legislation. Interest in child care in the late 1980s was largely attributed to the dramatic changes in the social and political fabric of American life, some of which were described in the previous chapter. New...

  10. 5 Regulations, Implementation, and High Expectations, 1991–1993
    (pp. 135-169)

    Following the enactment of the CCDBG and the At-Risk Child Care Program in 1990, the focus shifted to the executive branch for the promulgation of regulations to implement both programs. The battles over the regulations were nearly as contentious as those surrounding the legislation. The difference was that the setting was primarily the executive branch, in particular the newly created Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in HHS. By mid-1992 ACF had issued final regulations for each of the programs, and the states launched child care programs using new federal funds. The 1992 election of President Bill Clinton signaled to...

  11. 6 Child Care and Welfare Reform, 1994–1996
    (pp. 170-207)

    The midterm elections in 1994 ushered in a new era of governance as the Republicans gained control of both chambers of Congress. Changes in congressional structures and procedures affected how Congress worked and shaped the politics of child care legislation. For the first part of 1995 the Contract with America strongly determined what landed on the congressional agenda. Welfare reform was a high priority for both parties in Congress and for President Clinton. Although each party had a different vision of welfare reform, a consensus prevailed in Washington, supported by popular opinion, that welfare needed to be revamped. The politics...

  12. 7 High Hopes, 1997–2000
    (pp. 208-248)

    After welfare reform, other opportunities arose for expanding federal child care initiatives. Among them were new interest in early brain development, a president with a commitment to child care, and the first federal budget surplus in decades. Despite these developments, enacting federal child care laws remained difficult. Without a major child care bill to rally around, advocates for increases in federal child care assistance proposed child care as a solution to many different problems. Consequently, child care became part of tobacco settlement legislation, crime prevention initiatives, and federal budget bills. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, most members of...

  13. 8 A View from the States, 1996–2000
    (pp. 249-277)

    At first glance, it might seem odd for a book on federal child care policy to include a chapter on state issues. However, the synergy between federal and state child care policies makes it necessary to explain how states implemented federal child care laws. In the late 1990s child care policymaking on the state level relied on growing devolution from federal to state authorities. Thus, this chapter places state child care policies in the context of the shifting sands of intergovernmental relations. It describes the importance of governors in state child care policymaking, implementation of child care under welfare reform...

  14. 9 Looking Back and to the Future
    (pp. 278-306)

    The previous chapters described thirty years of child care policymaking. But to chronicle child care legislation without linking it with larger themes in American public policymaking would be misleading. For the saga of child care policymaking illustrates how issue definition, the structure of American political institutions (Congress and the executive branch), organized interests, and the interactions among these entities influenced public policy outcomes. Because no one theory or framework can sufficiently explain the politics and policies of child care, several are discussed, all of which emphasize structural change.

    This final chapter addresses a limited set of puzzling questions concerning developments...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 307-374)
  16. Index
    (pp. 375-397)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 398-398)