Leading native scholars examine the child care policies of Germany, Sweden, France, Hungary, Austria, and Finland. A concluding chapter offers suggestions for modifying U.S. family and child care policy direction.
As more and more mothers of young children have entered the work force in America, the question of child care has become a major issue among employers, scholars, policymakers and, of course, the general public. The accepted view among those who see a high rate of female labor force participation as inevitable has long been to achieve a consistent maternal/parenting leave of approximately six months, followed by access to good quality child care facilities for use at parental option. Some European countries are, however, now going beyond this point by financially enabling parents to stay at home for one, two, or even three years after childbirth. Sheila Kamerman and Alfred Kahn explore with European scholars child care and parenting policies in six countries, and examine the motives and perspectives involved, the specific problems and their costs, the extent to which countries can report the impacts of their methods, and the potential implications of these experiences for the United States.
Through these national examples, the editors introduce an important policy debate concerning parenting and children under three. Among the questions raised are whether the government should make it financially easier for parents to remain at home, what the effects of leave policy would be on need for and use of child care facilities, what the relationships between such assistance and the broader income support policies would be and--ultimately--what the consequences of such policies might be for parents and children. The editors begin their work with an introductory chapter that defines the issues for the United States and the reasons for looking toward Europe, and follow with six chapters examining the policies of countries in the lead in this field: Austria, Germany, France, Hungary, Finland, and Sweden. The book concludes with a final chapter that suggests possible directions for U.S. policy. This work will be an important resource for planners and for courses in sociology, family studies, early childhood education, and social policy, as well as for public, corporate, and academic libraries.