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Family Support Builds Stronger Families

by Ethel Seiderman
March/April 2009
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Article Link: http://www.exchangepress.com/article/family-support-builds-stronger-families/5018666/

A simple but powerful principle drives family-supportive child care: Parents who feel fulfilled enrich their children’s lives, resulting in stronger families.

The concept is not new. In the 1890s, Hull House in Chicago, the Henry Street Settlement in New York, and others nationwide incorporated elements of family support into their programs. The offer of child care, for example, drew poor immigrant parents to the settlement houses, where they were offered activities to help them integrate into their new lives in the United States. Fifty years later, during World War II, child care became an essential family need as women went off to work in wartime industries while men fought on battlefields.

Family support in child care settings was built on these roots. Launched in the 1960s, the new federal Head Start program targeted parents’ growth and empowerment as a significant part of young children’s early education.

The 1970s brought the advent of grassroots and self-help programs to support parents, while public agencies, especially at the local level, began contracting with private non-profit organizations to deliver services to families. Co-op nursery schools and alternative elementary schools encouraged parents to participate in planning and implementing activities.

In the 1980s, a national family support movement began expanding, bolstered ...

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