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In 1940, everything was bad. It was World War II. Poland ը Paris fell to the Nazis. President Roosevelt declared a state of emergency.

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FRANKLIN D ROUVELT. Tonight, millions of people are now moving from their homes on the once peaceful roads of Belgium and France.


That was the beginning of the war, չէր America was not so ready. Compared to now, our army was small. We just had about 200,000 soldiers.

WOOD. This is not the giant army you would expect from the United States

ERS ENTRY. No. We are ranked quite low in the world. Even in the top 10 places. We came right after countries like Romania and Bulgaria. So all these men were joining or being drafted, it խնդիր caused a problem.

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CANDIDATE # 1. To fight this war, another 10 million people must be employed by the end of 1943. Today the employment offices are deserted. For every available driver, for example, you need 22.

ERS SERVICES. Thus, the federal government published a public statement on the posters and newsletters. Really a request for help.

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CANDIDATE N 1 IS RECEIVED. We still have millions of hands with every used man. We must call women.

SALLY company և DARIAN WOODS. Women:

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ERS SERVICES. It was quite an unusual move for Amanak.

Woods. And then something more happened, quote-quotation mark, “unusual”. The US government has launched its first national subsidized day care program.

ERS TROUBLE – is true. This actually happened. Who knew? But this is a debate that Americans have been having for years. Can the federal government provide day care? Should we afford it? Well, we managed to put it into action during World War II.

Woods. My name is Darian Woods.

ERS SERVICES. I’m Sally Hersheps instead of Stacey Vanek Smith. This is a PL indicator of the planet’s money. Today we return to World War II, a time when the federal government provided day care for working parents. It was a mess, a backwards thinking. So today during the show. What, if anything, did we learn from this great experience?


Woods. The birth of Rosie Riveter, a woman in the workplace, was a major cultural shift for the United States. Here is a video from a government-sponsored educational film.

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INCREDIBLE PERSON # # 1. Women scare me. In any case, they do it in the factory.

MEMBER PERSON # 2. Well, maybe women are scared too, eh. Let’s see if most of them are working on their first industrial job. It is a completely unknown world.

ERS SERVICES – It was a strange new world. Seven million women entered the workforce, which created a problem. If no one was home, who was going to take care of the children? The federal government was busy producing the project և tanks, it just somehow ignored this issue. Thus, the Congress found a solution. Eventually, tens of millions of dollars were allocated to cover the child care program. That’s about $ 1.2 billion in today’s money, so the idea didn’t go well.

CHRIS HERBST. Even during this war, there was a great deal of opposition to the implementation of this childcare program.

WOODS. Chris Herbst studies Arizona State University և Child Care Policy.

Herb. And a lot of contrasts, quite interestingly, came from the parents themselves.

DEAF. Chris says you need to understand that shifts at these wartime factories can take up to 12 hours, seven days a week. It takes a long time to have a baby in day care, so some moms and dads were skeptical. Another opposition came from the pedagogues. Business owners, of course, were strongly in favor of a childcare plan.

Herb. It is difficult to build tanks and warships without employees.

Woods. So the day care program went ahead. In 1942, the first federally subsidized war nursery opened in New Haven, Conn.

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REAL GRIGIT N 2. On the way to work, the parents gave up hope in one of the kindergartens. The 50-cent daily fee included lunch in the morning, as well as a warm, balanced meal.

ERS SERVICES. The kindergartens were staffed by professional teachers with state licenses. It was perceived as a quality program, but its history kind of disappeared over time. Chris himself heard about it by chance only one day, which is mentioned in a news item.

HERBST – I wrote an entire dissertation on child care. I read what I thought was the history of childcare policies in this country. I have never heard of this. And so I literally gave up on everything I was doing to learn everything about this program.

ERS ENTRY. It was an opportunity for him to study the outcome of what we had been arguing about for years.

HERBST. It provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assess the impact of the Universal Child Care Plan not in Canada or Denmark but here in the United States.

Woods. Chris says the result was immediately positive for women. And for the hundreds of thousands of children in day care programs, it really had a big impact on the road.

HERBST. Outcome after outcome, they did better than their counterparts who did not participate in the program. They were more likely to work. When they worked, they were more likely to work full time. Their earnings were higher. They were less likely to receive financial assistance. And their health also seemed better.

ERS TROUBLE – But it was expensive. In order to pay for war nurseries, Congress distorted the current housing law to increase funding for child care. And that upset some educators because, by law, engineers were in charge of things, not child care professionals. It was assumed that the program would always be just a temporary fix.

HERBST. When the war ended, all funding for the child care program would end. And indeed it did.

Woods. But not in California.

NATALIE FUSEKIS teaches women’s history in California.

NATALI FUSEKIS. The women did a very good job convincing some. You know, there was a legislature at that time. There were only a few women in the legislature. So you are basically preaching to a group of men.

ERS ENTRY. She says California women have come up with two main arguments. First, they told the state legislators, look, we would like to stay at home and take care of our children, but we do not allow it. So what better way for us to be a good mother than to put our children in these child care centers that educate and prepare them for kindergarten?

Woods. But they had one more argument.

FUSEKIS – If we are still in the workforce, it means we are paying taxes. And they were actually going to calculate how many hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars working women were paying state-federal taxes.

ERS ENTRY. And that strategy, if you help us maintain our jobs, we will pay more taxes, which worked a little before the federal government took steps to provide more funding for the welfare of women in the country. And he wanted his funding for California to fit into his overall policy. So he went in and told California lawmakers that we would continue to give you this money for day care. But if you want to keep receiving the money, you have to give it to another group of women, especially women who are unemployed or do not work.

WOODER. And finally, this two groups of women opposed each other. Broadly speaking, working women – women who have well-being.

FUSEKIS – Oh oh, it was awful. And it really became a mess.

ERS SERVICES. Prosperous women received money. And women who worked during the war lost their day care. But 80 years later, 80 years after World War II, some of those war nursery buildings, at least in Darya, California, still exist, and this debate is about how much the federal government should pay for day care.

Woods. It will not go away soon.

ERS SERVICES. No, not soon. And you? Do you have any thoughts on whether the federal government should help with the day care bill, as it did during World War II? Let us know. Follow us on our Twitter account – @TheIndicator.


ERS SERVICES. This INDICATOR episode was created by Emma Pisley with the help of Gil Ily Moon. It was fact-checked by Michael He and edited by Kate Concannon. THE INDICATOR is a production of NPR.

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