Day care is a child welfare service employed when family care for the child must be supplemented for some part of the day. It is designed to permit the child to be maintained in his own home. It also operates to strengthen and support positive parental role enactment. Like homemaker service, day care is primarily concerned with helping the temporarily motherless family--motherless because the mother is working.
According to the Women's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor ( 1953):
A day nursery or day-care center has as its primary function the provision of good group care and supervision of supplemental parental care during the day because . . . parents are unable to care for [their children] due to employment, sickness, or for some other reason [p. 6].
A United Nations ( 1956) report defines day care as "an organized service for the care of children away from their own homes during some part of the day when circumstances call for normal care in the home to be supplemented." This definition is based on the conception of day care "as a supplement to, but not as a substitute for, parental care" (p. 18).
In each case, these definitions are followed by some discussion of the differences between day care (a child welfare service) and nursery school (an educational service). Despite any overlap, the central purposes of these programs are essentially distinguishable.
The emphasis in day-care programs is on the primary provision of care and protection: food, shelter, adult supervision, and supplementation of primary parental roles. The day-care facility may, incidentally, educate. In fact, the good day-care facility uses its time with the child to further his development, but care and protection are the first responsibilities of day care. By contrast, "the true nursery school, unencumbered as it is by the need to aid the mitigation of the child's deprivation of normal maternal care, can concentrate on its proper role of preschool education" ( United Nations, 1953, p. 9). As Moustakas ( 1955) says, "Parents usually send children to nursery school because they wish to do so; they often send children to a child care center because they must" (p. 154).
Consequently the clientele of the day-care center is more apt to come from lower socioeconomic groups; that of the nursery school from a college-educated,