Journal Issue: Financing Child Care Volume 6 Number 2 Summer/Fall 1996
The preceding articles in this journal clearly illustrate that the child care issue is a crisis that needs to be addressed. However, despite increased attention to the issue over the past decade or so and some child care-related legislation, the United States has not instituted any meaningful solution to the problem with which parents struggle on a daily basis: ensuring good-quality, affordable child care.
This article outlines a plan for addressing the child care crisis by creating a child care system within an existing institution—the public school. The plan, known as the School of the 21st Century, was first presented in 19871 and has been implemented in more than 400 schools in 13 states.2 At its core, the program links public schools with full-day child care services for three- and four-year-olds and with before- and after-school and vacation care for school-age children. It may also include parent support and health services. The program is designed to coordinate four social systems that affect children's development: the family, child care, the school, and health care services.3
This article details the rationale for the School of the 21st Century, lists the key principles that underlie it, and then describes the services offered in a typical School of the 21st Century. The latter half of the article focuses on financing, first describing how schools currently fund the model and then proposing an ideal financing model that combines parent fees with funds from federal and, primarily, state and local public sources.