The tangled, uneven, and ever-changing growth of child care throughout the world has been consistently tightly interwoven with the role of women in society, the economy, a new understanding of early childhood development, national interests, and human rights.

It is not surprising that the ways we care for children has changed dramatically over the years as our understanding of a woman's role in society has evolved. As society's interest and support for women's expanding role waxes, new educational models have been developed, refined, discussed and eventually discarded or utilized for specific populations. As society's interest has waned for women's expanding role, support for child care models has languished.

We no longer live in the same world as the 1950's or even the 1960's. Lassie and Leave it to Beaver as well as Father Knows Best are now fondly remembered reruns that no longer reflect today's family.

Today, more than half of all mothers of infants are in the work force employed outside of the home. As a nation, we have more than five million children, under the age of 3-years-old who require some form of daycare. Many parents opt to use family based care while others opt to use more organized center based care. It's estimated that perhaps as many as one in four children in America live in a single parent home. This change in family composition has been attributed to an upward swing in the divorce rate and an increase in many women deciding to be single parents. This means there are many, many women who are solely responsible for the care and financial security of their children.

Today many women are eager to maintain continuity in their working years. After working toward achieving success they fear that too many years out of workforce limits their professional growth and their opportunities. Examples of this are women in the legal field who may never make partner if they take a couple of years off for child rearing. Those women in the computer world dare not be absent from the workforce too long because their field changes daily. A few years off would put them in the dark ages as far as a potential employer would be concerned. Even those employers who want to hire a strong candidate want to know: who will take care of your children?

Adding to this real need to access a variety of child care services is the mobility of today's American family. There was a time when mothers stayed at home and cared for children. If she wasn't available there was most likely a relative or neighbor who was able to provide custodial child care for brief periods of time. Today, the social cost of our mobility has meant the loss of many of our extended family connections. Aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins are no longer available to help raise the children. The answer: adequate services for children.

Access to adequate to these services is so important that a large industry has grown out of this need. Today corporations understand that to recruit and maintain valuable female employees they need to provide access to this service for children. Some companies elect to create this service and finance it own their own. Other companies elect to outsource this area to child care specialists who do the day-to-day operations of a facility. Still other corporations may elect to provide access to daycare centers with subsidies to their employees.

However child care needs are met, there is no doubt that the public and private world recognizes the importance of taking care of the kids. The proof of that is in the financial backing corporations provide to make child care access possible.


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