Championing Child Care

Championing Child Care

Championing Child Care

Championing Child Care

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

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 role in child care had not recovered from serious defeats in the 1970s. In subsequent years, from the position of chairman and then ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, I have seen support for a federal role in child care advance dramatically with legislation such as the historic Child Care and Development Block Grant Act of 1990 and have watched progress stall from indifference and partisan squabbling. In recent years I have become cautiously optimistic that child care has finally achieved a position on the federal agenda where it can no longer be easily dismissed.

Although enduring concerns remain in the minds of many that federal support for child care encourages parents to abrogate their responsibilities for child rearing, most now acknowledge that in many American families the parents must work. That economic reality coupled with the societal judgment embodied in welfare reform that welfare recipients, even those with very young children, should be in the workplace has helped to focu . . .

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