Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

America's Childcare Problem: The Way Out

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

America's Childcare Problem: The Way Out

Article excerpt

America's Childcare Problem: The Way Out. Suzanne W. Helburn & Barbara R. Bergmann. New York: Palgrave. 2002. 262 pp. ISBN 0312-21149-X. $32.95 (cloth).

Instead of reading about utopian solutions to the myriad of child care problems, I found myself agreeing with Suzanne Helburn and Barbara Bergmann that they did have a solution (or at least recommendations) on how to "fix it." As the title indicates, the authors provide an extensive, indepth overview of the current condition of child care in the United States in addition to several well thought out, logical policy recommendations. By providing such dense material in an easily understandable format, the authors seem to be writing for a diverse audience-from parents to academics to policy makers.

This book presents a holistic overview of all aspects of child care in America. It should be no surprise that child care is found to be wanting, or problematic, in terms of cost, quality, accessibility, and regulation. The authors address each of these issues and propose a design for the way out of this problem: federal government financing with state and local government administration of the services provided (in a large part) by private sector providers. They make a solid case for their "way out" of the child care problem throughout the entire book and provide realistic policy recommendations based on empirical research with multiple steps. Perhaps it is because they are economists, the authors realize that there is not a simple, easy, or quick answer to the child care problem. In fact, they continually state that this is an expensive problem that will require substantial funding and an extensive time commitment.

Throughout the book, the authors acknowledge the positives as well as the negatives of the current child care situation. Empirical evidence is presented about the pros and cons for the different types of care: day care centers, family child care, care from relatives, nanny care, nursery schools, prekindergartens, and Head Start. No single type of care is presented as providing the best type of care. …

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