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The History of Daycare - Overview

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Below is a brief history of how daycare has insinuated itself into our society. 
Click on the links for more detailed information.

Prior to the 1900's, day cares were charitable organizations only, and "would not accept children of mothers who worked for any reason but dire financial necessity".1  "In the words of social historian Margaret Steinfels, 'day care was not a service for the normal'"2
Even as late as 1963, "The Children's Bureau found that 'the child who needs day care has a family problem...'"3

These charitable child care organizations, variously known as day nurseries, infant schools, or crches were the precursors to modern daycare as we know it today.

The roots of institutionalized daycare for the non-destitute were in the discredited Socialist Systems of the late 1800's and early 1900s.
In the U.S., it appeared in the communistic Oneida Society of Perfectionists in upstate New York in 1848
4, who were also notorious for their belief in free love (A.K.A. "complex marriage") and eugenics (A.K.A. "stirpiculture")
Large scale institutionalized daycare was used in the former Soviet Union and also in the early Zionist kibbutzim  (collective Jewish pioneering settlements in Palestine -- modern-day Israel).

The Great Depression forced a temporary revision in attitude toward daycare in the United States.

Day care in the United States became legitimized during World War II, because mothers were encouraged to work in the factories for the war effort.  Additionally, day cares began to associate themselves with schools to disguise their unsavory reputation as daytime orphanages.

In the years following WWII until the present, the day care industry gained greater acceptance by further associating itself with education.  At the same time, the US government unintentionally legitimized day care by providing childcare programs to compel welfare mothers to work to get off public assistance.

"The use of daycare has increased at a frightening rate.  (It's hard to imagine, but only) as recently as the mid 1960's,...most states (in the USA) with legislation regulating day care refused even to license (daycare) facilities for children under 3 years old5." 
About the same time frame, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed, "...a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother."
The noun, "Day Care", didn't even appear in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, until 1993 (the Tenth Edition)!

1   A Mothers' Job: The History of Daycare, 1890-1960  by Elizabeth Rose, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1999,  page 29.
 Day Care Deception - What the Child Care Establishment isn't telling us by Brian C. Robertson,
2003 Encounter Books, page 153
3  
Who's Minding the Children by Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, 1973, page 72

 Minding the Children:  Childcare in America from Colonial Times to the Present by Geraldine Youcha,
1995, page 93
What's wrong with Day Care: Freeing Parents to Raise Their own children by Charles Siegel, 
2001, page 47
Principle 6 of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 1386(XIV) of 20 November 1959

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Continued on the next page

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Last updated:  11/01/2009

History of Daycare- Background | History of Daycare - Overview | Overview - cont. | Precursors to modern Daycare | Precursors - pg 2
Daycare in the former Soviet Union  | Soviet Union - pg 2 | Daycare in the early Zionist kibbutzim | Daycare during the Great Depression |
Daycare during WWII | Daycare during WWII - cont. Daycare after WWII to the 1960's  | Daycare after WWII - cont. | Daycare today  
 


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