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Integrating Care and Education
January 2, 2003

"There are forty kinds of lunacy, but only one kind of common sense."
–West African proverb


In her new book, Time to Care: Redesigning Child Care to Promote Education, Support Families, and Build Communities (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), tireless advocate Joan Lombardi argues that care and education should be integrated in our child care system:

"The fact that child care has twin goals -- to serve as a work support for families and to promote the education of children -- contributes to the challenge of creating a new financing strategy. The schedules of working families come in all shapes and sizes. Children and their child-care needs come in all ages and stages. Working families need extended and flexible hours. Parents must have choices that fit these realities, but they should be good choices, not just the 'default mode' that too many parents now face.

"Currently most support for child care responds to the work goal, providing portable assistance to families so they can purchase the type of care that best meets their needs. However, funds are so limited, and policies so out of touch with the actual costs of care, that most eligible families do not benefit in any substantial way relative to their need. Moreover, since child-care funding builds largely on a free-market approach, very little attention is being given to building the supply or safeguarding quality to ensure good education or family-support services.

"On the other hand, traditional preschool funding and some of the new after-school programs do address the education goal. However, too often they do not meet the needs of working families. Child care should not be designed to fit a banker's schedule or an outdated nine-month calendar year. Half-day programs do not satisfy the needs of a full-day world. Despite increased interest in preschool, often it does not cover the hours needed by working families. Similarly, there is a growing interest in developing tutoring and mentoring programs after school to improve academic achievement. These services may be designed (and funded) to meet twice or three times a week for an hour or two after school. However, for working parents such activities must be integrated into a program that also meets the needs of their children for adult supervision every afternoon."

At the 2003 World Forum on Early Care and Education in Acapulco, Mexico, Peter Hesse from Germany will lead an "open space" session on advocacy. Participants will pool their expertise and build a program on the spot to address topics of interest. For details on the2003 World Forum on Early Care and Education, go to www.ChildCareExchange.com.


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