The Child Development Act of 1971: The closest America has ever gotten to universal child care
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Date of Graduation
Master of Arts (MA)
Department of History
The significance of this thesis is on how a bill, the Child Development Act (CDA), and other complementary policies created a phenomenon of biracial and bigendered cooperation among socioeconomic boundaries to push for a reprioritization of children’s rights in the welfare system of the United States. Although the CDA never passed the White House desk its influence was significant on how national social activism influenced the interpretation of universal child care. The thesis sheds a light on the influence of women in politics, welfare, civil rights, Chicano, and children rights and their cooperation and appeasement in pushing for a national policy. It stresses the importance of the fragile ad hoc coalition and the decisions made by these women leaders. It gives more context to the work of Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug, Marian W. Edelman, Dr. Cecilia Suárez, and more who have been neglected in the current scholarship. The shared goal by these leaders and organizations was the bills lost impact on the American welfare system, one that most historians overlooked due to the Nixon veto. My thesis contends that their argument is essential to understanding how women fought for social and political activism at the national level. Lastly, it assesses the influence of the New Right in generating a permanent opposition to universal child care and mothers’ full participation in the economy.
Cochran, Rory, "The Child Development Act of 1971: The closest America has ever gotten to universal child care" (2022). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 146.
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