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History of Early Childhood Education Policy

Early care and education (ECE) programs in the United States comprise center-based child care, family child care, preschools, and kindergarten programs. According to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, ECE programs differ by quantity and quality. A review of the history of ECE programs and policy in the United States reveals that much of child care was established in the United States as a substitute to maternal care when mothers were not available to care for their children (due to work) or when they were deemed “inadequate” (as in culture of poverty policies for poor families). However, ECE support for families has been and continues to be undervalued and inadequate (in terms of quality and scope).

The 1800s

In the early 1800s, early childhood ...

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