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Child Care Workers

History

You probably think daytime child care is a fairly modern idea. It's true that only 17 percent of the mothers of one-year-olds were part of the labor force in 1965. That number seems small when you look at statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor—in 2015, approximately 64.2 percent of mothers of children under age six worked outside the home. Additionally, most preschool-aged children are cared for in child-care centers. But child-care centers were needed as far back as the 18th century. In England, factories employed child care workers to run nurseries for the factory workers' children, a trend that carried over to the United States in the 19th century. Of course, working conditions in factories were often terrible before the 1900s, and the children were put to work at very young ages. So the child-care service as we know it today didn't really begin to evolve until World War II, when women joined the workforce while the men were away fighting. Though many of these women quit their jobs when the men returned from the war, roles for women began to change. In the last half of the 20th century there were more opportunities for women in the workplace, and for many families, two incomes became necessary to meet the rising costs of living. Daytime child care consequently became necessary. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that by the end of the 20th century, in close to 70 percent of married couples with children under age 18, both the husband and wife held paying jobs. Since the bureau projects the number of children under 18 to increase from approximately 70 million in 1999 to about 77 million in 2020, we can logically assume that dependable, safe, and caring child-care services will continue to be in high demand.