AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
Significant increases in the numbers of mothers in the work force who have children younger than six and growing recognition over the last two decades of the long-term benefits of quality preschool education have resulted in the majority of young children in the United States being cared for by someone other than their parents for part of each day (Willer et al., 1991; Berrueta-Clement et al., 1984). There are multiple and sometimes competing motivations for families' reliance on non-parental child care, such as parental employment, preparing children for school, promoting children's social skills, and protecting children from maltreatment. Yet, even while many of these motivations for non-parental child care reflect parents' needs, the early education and child care fields tend to be child-focused rather than family-focused.
While early education and child care settings are logical places to reach parents and other family members, ironically, until quite recently, few have structured their programs around family support principles and offered family support activities to meet families' needs (Galinsky and Weissbourd, 1994). Today, however, professional demand for the integration of early childhood and family support services is growing rapidly. For example, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is increasingly defining quality services as including staff capacity to work effectively with parents on behalf of children (Powell, 1989).
By design, child care is a service framed around parents and families' needs. Yet, many child care and early education staff need better ideas and strategies for how to deal with, and successfully help multiply-stressed families. This article provides a conceptual framework for the integration of early education and child care services with family support, and examples of the design and implementation of family support services in different types of early education and child care settings.
The Separate Histories of Child Care
and Family Support
Until quite recently, separate systems of early childhood education and child care services were perpetuated through policy mandates, funding streams, regulations, training requirements, and public demands based primarily on family income and mother's employment status. This situation has changed somewhat in the last few years with more attention being devoted to integrated efforts in standard-setting, training, technical assistance, and public education encompassing a variety of early childhood program settings.
Alongside these changes in early education and child care, the family support movement has been growing, and, over time, defining its place in the larger human service and education fields. This growth has been well chronicled and analyzed by the Harvard Family Research Project (Harvard Family Research Project, 1995a, 1995b, 1995c, 1994, 1993a, 1993b, 1992a, 1992b, 1990,1989a, and 1989b). Often, what began as a small number of …