Women & Childcare


“Inspired by the American Kindergarten movement, Pauline Agassiz Shaw established a day nursery with an educational focus, in 1878 Boston.  Many other centers followed Shaw's example, providing care for long hours with educational activities, comprehensive services, family education and training, and counseling; although most did not service the very young children. In the 1880's, Frances Willard attempted to meet this need by establishing the Women's Christian Temperance Union.  Her day nurseries were offered free of charge to poor mothers, but were not open to all racial and ethnic groups, and never to children of unwed mothers.  This discrimination left many mothers with no other option than to send their children to orphanages or in unsatisfactory arrangements in strangers homes.  The 1890's ushered in the National Association of Colored Women, which established day nurseries serving urban African American families and children.  The 1800's saw a number of experiments in childcare, enabling many women to avoid the depths of poverty by working outside of the home. Childcare was generally regarded as a last-resort measure, only to be utilized in the most dire of emergencies and circumstances.”

Source: Historical Foundations of Early Childhood Education

The History of Child Care in the U.S.

Origins of Childcare in the United States - Historical Foundations of Early Childhood Education

Women's work: mothers, children and the global childcare crisis - - Research reports and studies

A History of US Preschool Care and Education for the Poor, 1820–1965

Celebrating Women in Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education and Care in the United States: An Overview of the Current Policy Picture