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Expected struggles: U.S. child care policy


  • Palley, Elizabeth


Many industrialized countries have publically supported child care policies in place. However, the United States is an outlier in this policy realm. The child care policies that exist in the U.S. are very limited and they are framed as poverty based programs. This article is based on interviews with 19 child care policy experts including policy advocates, researchers, and funders. In addition, secondary data is examined to explain how advocates for a seemingly out of favor issue seek to position themselves both individually and collectively to get this issue placed on the national agenda. The findings suggest that the child care advocates have developed multiple frames to address child care policy. Some advocacy groups and their spokespeople have framed child care as a poverty issue, others have framed it as a women's rights issue and, more recently, some policy advocates have framed child care as an educational issue. Sometimes, there is overlap and the same group may frame child care issues differently depending upon the legislative issue at hand. In part, these frames reflect existing policies as a result of what Pierson (1993) refers to as policy feedback. Nonetheless, this lack of cohesion in framing has led to the continued development of policies that have created multiple interest groups, all seeking resources for similar goals that are not always aligned.

Suggested Citation

  • Palley, Elizabeth, 2012. "Expected struggles: U.S. child care policy," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 628-638.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:4:p:628-638
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.12.007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Palley, Elizabeth, 2010. "Who cares for children? Why are we where we are with American child care policy?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 155-163, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Garrow, Eve E. & Danziger, Sandra K. & Tillotson, Amanda R., 2015. "Shifting sands that threaten policy advocacy for vulnerable children and youth: A case study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 211-218.


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