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In Our Hands

Working mothers are common in the United States. In over half of all two-parent families, both parents work, and women's paychecks on average make up 35 percent of their families' incomes. Most of these families yearn for available and affordable child care-but although most developed countries offer state-funded child care, it remains scarce in the United States. And even in prosperous times, child care is rarely a priority for U.S. policy makers. In In Our Hands: The Struggle for U.S. Child Care Policy, Elizabeth Palley and Corey S. Shdaimah explore the reasons behind the relative paucity of U.S. child care and child care support. Why, they ask, are policy makers unable to convert widespread need into a feasible political agenda? They examine the history of child care advocacy and legislation in the United States, from the Comprehensive Child Development Act of the 1970s that was vetoed by Nixon through the more recent policies that support quality early education and universal pre-kindergarten. The book includes data from interviews with 23 prominent child care and early education advocates and researchers who have spent their careers seeking expansion of child care policy and funding and an examination of the legislative debates around key child care bills of the last half-century. Palley and Shdaimah analyze the special interest and niche groups that have formed around existing policy, arguing that such groups limit the possibility for debate around U.S. child care policy. Ultimately, they conclude, we do not need to make minor changes to our existing policies. We need a revolution.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 1 Introduction 2 Framing 3 History 4 The Role of Interest Groups 5 Current U.S. Child Care Policies 6 Women and Child Care 7 Strategic Framing of Child Care 8 Child Care as a Social Movement 9 If We Have a Major Social Problem, Why Is There No Movement for Change? Afterword Appendix 1: A Brief Note on Research Methods Appendix 2: Interview Guide for Interest Groups and Organizations Including Unions Appendix 3: Study Respondents by Organization and Role Appendix 4: Conservative Organization Websites Reviewed Notes References Index About the Authors

About the Author

Elizabeth Palley is Professor at the Adelphi School of Social Work. Corey S. Shdaimah is Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work.


"Whether you are a parent, provider or policy wonk, this book will help you understand why quality child care is so difficult to find and even more challenging to afford. It will then lift your spirits with some reasonable solutions."-Dana E. Friedman, Founder and President, The Early Years Institute "This book tells us why, despite a growing number of women in the workforce and the well-documented struggles of working families across the economic spectrum to access and afford child care, the U.S. has been unable to make any headway on a problem that touches so many families. Palley and Shdiamah look through the lens of social movement theory to remind us that in the context of U.S. culture and politics, building a broad based movement around child care is essential if we are to move from a piecemeal approach to comprehensive policy. The authors' conversations with long-time advocates and activists lead to provocative questions about how to reframe the child care issue toward building a broad-based movement in the context of today's challenges and opportunities. This book is a must-read for advocates, union leaders and activists, early childhood workers and educators."-Denise Dowell, Early Learning and Care Programs, CSEA

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