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Child Care In The Public Schools

"Some people can make lead float where others will see their straw sink."
–Yugoslavian proverb


Twelve years ago Child Care Information Exchange (November, 1991) published a status report, "Pre-K in the Public Schools," in which Bettye Caldwell observed....

"In my mind advocates for the schools and for child care are natural allies. But in reality they have behaved as natural enemies. School personnel may look down upon child care programs as providing only custodial care, and child care providers may accuse public schools of ignoring the social needs of children and families. As both domains have come under attack -- public schools for 'failing' to educate and child care for 'weakening the family' -- each has sought to bolster its self-esteem by asserting its independence from and superiority to the other.

"But in fact both domains provide both care and education, and both domains have much to gain by working together. One might be tempted to suggest that attempts to unite the two domains are too late: the general public now sees both services as inadequate and flawed. But I believe it is never too late to develop a service program that is in harmony with patterns of human need. A blending of care and education can meet the needs of children for developmental guidance and the needs of parents for effective supervision of their children more conveniently than any other pattern of service."

For the March 2003 issue of Child Care Information Exchange we will be taking a new look at the role public school systems in the United States are playing in the early childhood world. We welcome your insights for this article. Send them to Roger Neugebauer at

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