Organized child care in the United States began in 1910 with a nursery school modeled after the open air nursery concept launched in Europe by the McMillan sisters. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration funded almost 2,000 nurseries during the Great Depression to support preschool children from struggling families. Congress later provided matching funds to open child care centers during World War II to enable women to work in factories and shipyards while their husbands served in the war. After the war ended, the federal government did not fund child care programs again until 1964, with the launch of Head Start, a school readiness program for preschool children from low-income families.

In 1972, sweeping new legislation was passed by both the House and the Senate ...

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