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|TATE COLL'

and Child Care

Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, No. 246
U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Martin P. Durkin, Secretary
WOMEN’S BUREAU
Frieda S. Miller, Director

6L

UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Martin P. Durkin, Secretary
WOMEN’S BUREAU
Frieda S. Miller, Director

Employed Mothers
and
Child Care

SjrxsOL

Bulletin of the Women’s Bureau, No. 246

United States

Government Printing Office
Washington : 1953

For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U. S. Government Printing Office
Washington 25, D. C. - Price 30 cents

LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

United States Department oe Labor,
Women’s Bureau,

Washington, January 03,1953.
I have the honor to transmit a report on working mothers and
child care. This is a subject of vital national interest at a time when
married women constitute the largest labor reserve in the country,
and therefore may be expected to continue entering the labor force in
ever-increasing numbers, and when 5% million mothers already are
employed.
This report shows the situation as to the employment of mothers and
the care of their children in 28 cities, chiefly areas for some time
subject to marked industrial expansion—in most cases an expansion
currently enlarged by defense activities. These cities were visited
by representatives of the Women’s Bureau in 1951 and 1952, many of
them at the request of the National Security Resources Board, to
which this Bureau furnished information on women workers in
numerous defense areas.
The particular situations reported here thus vary somewhat in time.
Nevertheless, they exemplify a perennial problem of almost every
industrial community, continuing alike in periods of economic
depression, in wartime, and when, as at present, production is increas­
ing notably. Furthermore, the cities visited well represent this uni­
versal problem, since they employ considerably more than a tenth of
the women workers in all urban areas in the United States.
Visiting and reporting on these various cities were this Bureau’s
field representatives, Dorothy M. Frost, Elsie I. Wolfe, and Marion B.
Beaven. Much of the research for the first section of the report was
done by Nora R. Tucker of the Bureau’s Division of Research. The
report was written by Mary-Elizabeth Pidgeon, economic consultant.
Respectfully submitted.
Frieda S. Miller, Director.
Hon. Martin P. Durkin,
Secretary of Labor.
Sir :

m

CONTENTS
PaKe

Industrial growth and the situation of women workers_________________
Demand for women workers and sources of supply_________________
The mother’s entrance to the labor force__________________________
Part I. Mothers

as

Workers and Developments
Their Children

for

Care

1
3
4
of

The employment status of mothers
Area estimates of mothers’ employment
Occupations of employed mothers
Employment of married women
Child-care programs that aid working mothers
Day nurseries and child-care centers,______________________________
Aid to dependent children
12
Educational programs
12
Home care other than in child’s own home
14
Child-care provisions in periods of economic stress_____________________
In World War I
15
In the economic depression of the early 1930’s_____________________
In World War II
15
In the defense period of the early 1950’s
Child-care facilities currently available
Part II.

Care

for

Working Mothers’ Children
Communities in 1951-52

in

6
7
8
9
10
11

14
15
20
21

Selected

Areas visited and findings
24
Character of areas
24
Existing child-care facilities
Evidences of child-careneeds

26
27
Constructive planning in communities
New England States
Connecticut
Hartford
New Haven
Bridgeport
Waterbury
New Britain
Stamford
Midwestern States
Indiana
Indianapolis
South Bend
Gary-------------------------------------------Fort Wayne
46
Illinois and Iowa
46
Rockford, 111
The “Quad Cities”. __
Davenport, Iowa_.
_
_________________________
Rock Island, Moline, East Moline, 111____________________
Burlington, Iowa
54
v

29
33
33
35
37
38
39
40
41
42
42
43
43
45

47
50
51
52

VI

CONTENTS

Midwestern States—Continued
Kansas_______ .
Wichita
58
Ohio
Dayton____________________________________________________
Akron_____ ,_______________________________________________
Wisconsin
Milwaukee
Mountain States
Colorado
Denver
_______________________________________________
Colorado Springs-----------------------------------------------------------------Pueblo
70
Idaho_
Idaho Falls
Southwestern States
Texas'___________________________
Dallas_____________
West Coast States
79
California______________
San Francisco______________________________
Los Angeles________________________________________________
San Diego________
__
____
Washington... .
- ...
...
Seattle ..
- ________

Page
58
60
61
63
64
64
68
68
68
70
72
72
75
75
75
79
81
82
84
87
87

Tables

1. Women ever married and mothers, in the labor force, 1940 and 1948-51. _
2. Occupation grouping of women 18 to 64, with and without children,
1950,_______
3. Marital status of women of working age in population and labor force,
1900-1951.........................
4. State distribution of nursery schools and day-care centers, by sponsor­
ship, 1950
5. Employment of women in 1950 in selected areas and increase 1940 to
1950_______
6. Estimated nonagricultural employment of women in selected areas,
1951 and 1952

7
8
9
23
25
31

Summaries

Labor force participation of women ever married, by whether or not
having own children under 18, 1951
Wife’s 1951 participation in labor force and 1950 income of husband____
Indications of available facilities___________ __________ ....
Sponsorship of nursery schools and day-care centers, 1950______________
Children in day-care facilities-------------------------------------------------------------

7
10
21
22
77

Employed Mothers and Child Care
INDUSTRIAL GROWTH AND THE SITUATION OF WOMEN
WORKERS
IN THE lives of an increasing number of working women, the care
of their children during the mother’s necessary absence from home
is a major consideration. The employment of women, married as
well as single, has grown markedly over recent decades, as a result of
compelling economic and social influences. Following these varied
influences, today’s workers include 5% million mothers, 2 million
having children under 6 years of age (April 1951).
All trends evident in the foreseeable future point toward the con­
tinuance of a large and probably growing woman labor force, includ­
ing the married as well as the single. This fact is indicated in the
first place by the nature of an economic society in which many family
needs must be purchased in the market rather than supplied at home,
and in which pressures for adding to family income consequently are
strong. Furthermore, this country’s current objectives wTill continue
to require a considerable woman labor force, since they are directed
toward maintaining a high level of production parallel with a mili­
tary program that tends to lessen the supply of manpower for essential
civilian occupations. Since these national plans, both in their defense
manufacture and their military aspects, are designed to extend through
an indefinite period of time, the need for women workers, particu­
larly for those who develop the skills most in demand, is likely to
continue.
The available labor supply of women must come from the 60 per­
cent of the woman population 18 through 64 who are not in the labor
force—only about 1% million of them unmarried. Many single
women of these ages who are not in the labor force are still in school,
others are chronically ill, or for other reasons unable to take jobs.
Hence, needs for new women workers inevitably will call into the labor
force many married women, including many mothers.
During 1951 there were abundant evidences that defense contracts
and new military installations of various types were expanding the
industries and the population in industrial areas throughout the
country. The Women’s Bureau, charged by law with the responsil

2

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

bility to promote the welfare of wage-earning women, realized the
importance of knowing how these industrial expansions are affecting
women workers, what opportunities they afford for women’s employ­
ment and suitable training, what work surroundings exist, and the
extent to which the available women workers have the skills that are
in demand, or can develop them.
Accordingly, the Women’s Bureau sent field representatives to ex­
plore the situation of women workers in 28 growing industrial com­
munities in 12 States in all sections of the country. The communities
visited employed well over a tenth of the woman labor force in urban
areas in the entire United States.
When marked changes are occurring in a locality, it becomes im­
portant for the Bureau to examine also the community’s plans and
capacity to provide for certain living necessities of the new workers.
Basic among these are adequate housing, food, health and recreation
facilities, and transportation to workplaces. By the lack of necessary
arrangements of these various types, women workers may be seriously
handicapped—they may be prevented from securing employment or
from remaining in the labor force, or their health may be adversely
affected, or their effectiveness in their jobs may be undermined.
In today’s economy, where married women constitute such a con­
siderable proportion of the woman labor force, another important
local problem is the provision of suitable facilities for the care of chil­
dren during their mothers’ working hours. This becomes a matter of
particular importance when full utilization of the available local labor
force is being sought before bringing in new workers, whose presence
would require added housing and other physical facilities. The pres­
ent report gives the findings of the Women’s Bureau field representa­
tives as to community services for children during their mothers’
work hours—whether child-care centers or nurseries, homes licensed
to give day care to a smaller number of children, nursery schools, or
other extended school services; whether conducted by schools, welfare,
or other community agencies or privately on a commercial basis.
Besides securing objective data and statistics relating to the various
aspects of women’s employment, the Bureau representatives gained
a more complete picture of the community facilities and needs through
interviews with the principal employers of women and with informed
local persons, such as various city, State, and Federal officials, admin­
istrators of the public welfare, employment, educational, and legal
services, and officers of welfare, union, employers’, and women’s
organizations.
The Bureau’s visits were made chiefly in 1951, and continued through
1952, with revisits to several communities. In every area included,
the employment of women had increased since 1940. In about half

INDUSTRIAL GROWTH AND WOMEN WORKERS

3

of them, these increases continued notably from 1951 to 1952, in some
of them to an enormous extent. In several of them, particularly cer­
tain of the largest aircraft centers, increases were primarily in manu­
facturing industries. In some of the cities visited, chiefly in some of
those in Connecticut and Indiana, women’s employment declined
notably from 1951 to 1952, even though in a few of these the numbers
of women in manufacturing increased.
DEMAND FOR WOMEN WORKERS AND SOURCES OF SUPPLY

The employment of women, after a postwar decrease, began to rise
again, and in September 1951 the civilian labor force in the United
States included over 1 million more women than in 1949. By Septem­
ber 1952, another three-quarter million women workers had been
added, the number then approximating the wartime peak. This is
the more striking when it is realized that over the same period of
time (1949-52) the number of male civilian workers declined by not
far from 1 million.
This situation points up the fact that women constitute this coun­
try’s most numerous and available labor reserve, which will have to
be substantially tapped if there is any appreciable industrial expan­
sion, and certainly in event of any emergency development. The
men in the civilian population aged 18 through 64 who are not in
the labor force numbered only about 2y2 million in September 1952.
Many of these will spend varying lengths of time in military service,
and there always is a considerable number who are in school, chroni­
cally ill, or otherwise unable to work continuously.
Of the women of working age (18 through 64), 28l/2 million, or 60
percent, are outside the labor force (September 1952). The great
majority of the 29y2 million women in this group in 1951 were re­
ported as married and engaged chiefly in maintaining their homes.
As has been pointed out, only about 1% million were unmarried,
and consequently any needs for new women workers will require
many married women, including many mothers, to enter the labor
force.
Reference has been made to the fact that the marked growth in the
employment of women through past decades has been an inevitable
result of economic and social influences. It has been accelerated by
the pressure for an increased labor force through two world wars,
and by family financial needs in a major depression. It has affected
to a large extent the married as well as the single women. It is a re­
sult of these varied influences that today one mother in every four
(with children under 18) is in the labor force.
The economic trends that have caused this situation are continuing
today, and there is no evidence that the clock can be turned back. In
236074—53-----2

4

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

fact, the increasing number of families in the country increases fam­
ily financial need. The number of families grew by more than a
fifth from 1940 to 1950, and even from 1950 to 1951 there were more
than 600,000 new families added. At the same time, the birth rate is
maintained at a high level. It is well above that of any period previ­
ously recorded in this country, except that it is slightly below the peak
of the World War I period and the postwar peak of 1947.
The increase in families and in number of children, at the same
time that the labor force requires an unprecedented number of women,
means that the care of children during the mothers’ necessary ab­
sence from home has become not only of prime importance to more
and more working women, but an important consideration for most
industrial communities. No one will dispute that the primary respon­
sibility for the care and direction of the lives of young children
rests with the parents, and especially with the mother. Her problem
has become increasingly complicated in modern society, with its
money economy, its consequent pressure for the wherewithal to buy
the necessities of life, its efforts to enable all citizens to receive educa­
tion and training to the fullest extent of their capabilities. It is a
problem that grows with the number of families to be supported. The
present report examines the ways in which the communities visited
are assisting or planning to assist their working mothers with this
problem.
THE MOTHER’S ENTRANCE TO THE LABOR FORCE

The fact that many mothers are employed, and that this is likely
to be a permanent feature of our economy, make it of interest to so­
ciety to examine the facilities available for the care of their children.
Whether or not to enter paid employment is a personal decision that
must be made by the mother and her family, in the light of all the con­
ditions that surround them.
Census data indicate that most mothers of very young children
remain at home to care for them rather than take a job. (See p. 7.)
However, many mothers must work to support their children, or to
aid in family support. To relieve mothers of pressing economic neces­
sity is an underlying principle of the aid given dependent children
under the Federal Social Security Act and the policies of many pri­
vate social agencies. Other mothers, more frequently those of chil­
dren beyond preschool age, feel the importance of earning in order to
assure for their children certain advantages that otherwise could not
be provided. And there are other reasons, as sound as economic ones,
why some mothers enter the labor force, especially if they can be as­
sured that their children will have proper care while they are away.
The needs of today’s industry for their services also constitute one

INDUSTRIAL GROWTH AND WOMEN WORKERS

5

of the strong pressures on mothers in many communities to enter or
to continue in employment.
A variety of considerations will enter into the final decision of each
mother who enters the labor force, the most important being adequate
care for her children. In fact, psychologists find that mothers often
are able to meet their children’s emotional needs more fully if they
can devote some time in the day to wholly outside experiences and
achievements, either in paid employment or in some community serv­
ice or creative activity. An outstanding statement on the mother’s
decision to enter or not to enter the labor force has been made jointly
by a Chicago social worker and a trained psychiatrist.1 It presents
in brief form a variety of situations under which mothers find them­
selves that influence their planning for employment and care of their
children. Its judgment is that too many factors are involved to jus­
tify generalizations, and that not enough attention has been paid to
analyzing individual situations.1
1 Irene M. Josselyn, M. D., and Ruth Schley Goldman: Should Mothers Work?
Social Service Review (University of Chicago), March 1949.

In

Part I
Mothers as Workers and Developments for Care
of Their Children
THE EMPLOYMENT STATUS OF MOTHERS
THE employment of mothers outside their homes is by no means
new in American life. Indeed before 1800 the earliest New England
cotton mills especially solicited mothers (and their children as well)
as employees to aid in the success of new undertakings, sometimes
enticing them with the promise of living quarters for their children.1
National figures on the extent of mothers’ employment are available
only for recent years, but various special studies give some earlier in­
formation. In a study of conditions of women’s work, authorized by
Congress in 1907, investigations sampling several large womanemploying industries reported among their employees mothers from
over 1,900 families.1 A special study of more than 700 employed
2
mothers in Philadelphia was made in 1918-19.3 Of these over 60 per­
cent were in factories, chiefly in textile mills or the needle trades,
nearly 30 percent were in domestic or personal service, the remainder
in trade or clerical occupations.
In 1951, in the United States as a whole, 28 percent of all women
who ever had been married were in the labor force, and 40 percent of
these workers had children under 18 years of age. Of all the mothers
in the population with children under 18, 1 in 4 (24 percent) were in
the labor force, and these numbered 5)4 million. Of these about
three-fifths had no preschool children. More than 2 million had chil­
dren under 6 years of age; nearly half these also had older children.
Mothers with children under 6 were less than half as likely to be in
the labor force as those with no children so young. The following
summary shows current figures as to the employment of mothers.
1 Edith Abbott: Women in Industry. 1910. See especially Ch. III.
2 U. S. Department of Commerce and Labor: Report on Conditions of Woman and Child
Wage Earners in the United States. Vols. 1-5. 1910-11. Cotton textile, men’s ready*
to-wear clothing, glass, and silk industries.
3 Gwendolyn S. Hughes (later, Gwendolyn Hughes Berry) : Mothers in Industry. 1925.

6

7

DEVELOPMENT OP CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS
Labor Force Participation

of

Women Ever Married,

Whether

by

or

Not

Having Own Children Under 18, 1951
Number of women in—
Population
Labor force

Status as to children

All women ___ __
Women ever married,. __
With no children under 18
Total with children under 18
With children 6-17 only
With children under 6 only___
With children both 6-17 and
under 6 ___________
Total with children under 6

57,
46,
24,
22,
9,
7,

354, 000
408, 000
265, 000
143, 000
259, 000
104, 000

18, 602,
13, 172,
7, 910,
5, 262,
3, 222,
1, 096,

Percent in
labor force

32
28
33
24
35
15

944, 000
2, 040, 000

5, 780, 000
12, 884, 000

000
000
000
000
000
000

16
16

Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Series P -E0, No. 39, May 28, 1952.

I he decided increases in the employment of mothers in the postwar
years indicate the importance of public attention to provisions for
their children. Figures showing this increase are given in table 1.
Whereas in 1940 mothers were 11 percent of the women in the labor
force, by 1951 they were 28 percent. Whereas in 1940 only 4 percent
of all women ever married were working mothers, 11 percent of the
women ever married were in this role in 1951. This situation has
developed largely from the increased marital and birth rates during
part of the 1940’s, as well as from the influences of wartime economy
and postwar living costs that brought more married women and
mothers into the labor force.
Table 1.—Women Ever Married

and

Mothers,

in the

Labor Force 1940

and

1948-511
Women ever married in labor force
Percent of all—

Year
Number

1940_______________
1948.- _ _ ______
1949_________ .
1950________
1951_ ...
_

Mothers in labor force

7,130,000
11,207,000
11,485, 000
12,174, 000
13,172,000

Percent of all—

Women
ever
married

Women in
the labor
force

Number

20

52
65
67

1, 500,000
4,165,000
4,333,000
4, 626,000
5, 262,000

26
24
27
28

68

71

Mothers

Women
ever
married

NR
20
20
22

24

4

10
10
10
11

Women in
the labor
force
11

24
25
26
28

1 Includes women widowed, separated, and divorced. Mothers included are those with children under 18.

Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Series PS and P-50.

AREA ESTIMATES OF MOTHERS' EMPLOYMENT

For the various communities the Women’s Bureau visited, com­
plete data are not available as to the number of mothers employed
since there is no source of such information for individual areas.
However, many localities do have some information that gives partial

8

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

indication as to their working mothers. In some places schools, plant
personnel records, or experiences of existing child-care centers show
concrete evidence. Furthermore, responsible general statements can
sometimes be made on this subject by authorities of schools, indus­
tries, employment services, or social welfare agencies. The great ma­
jority of mothers who go to work must make some provision for the
care of their children during the working hours of the mothers or
in out-of-school periods. Any evidence as to employment of mothers,
or even of women who have been married and are of the ages to have
children, is likely to indicate a need for child care. Some localities
have made studies of one type or another designed to give some light
on the community child-care situation.
OCCUPATIONS OF EMPLOYED MOTHERS

Some differences appear in the occupational distribution of mothers
and of women who have no children. For example, larger propor­
tions of women with children than of those without are in operative
and farm occupations, according to census data for 1950. Of the
women with children under 6 years of age, a fifth are operatives;
another fifth are in farm work, and many of these are likely to be
unpaid family workers. A slightly larger proportion of the women
with children than of those without are salespersons, work that often
can be done on a part-time basis. Smaller proportions of women
with children than of those without are clerical workers. Table 2
gives further details.
Table 2.—Occupation Grouping

of Women 18
Children, 1950

to

04, With

and

Without

Married women
Occupation group

With children under 18

Total *

With no
children

Total

None
under 6

Total

Some
under 6

Percent d stribution
All occupations
Clerical, kindred workers--------------------Operatives, kindred workers----------------Service (except private household)--------Professional, technical workers-------------Farmers, farm workers---------- -------------Sales workers-------- ---------------------------Private household workers------------------Managers, officials, proprietors (except
farm)
Other (craftsmen, laborers)------------------

100

100

100

100

100

25

22
22
11
8

26

17
24

16
25

20
12
10
10

21
11

9

12
8

12
8

17

15

14
9
7

10

9
9

8

10
6

5

5

6
2

4

2

2

9

2

11
6

100

18

22
12
8
20
8
6

5

4

2

2

i All women 18 through 64 In labor force, including single, widowed, separated, divorced. The occupa­
tion used is that of longest job held in 1950.
Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Series P-50, No. 35, Oct. 26, 1951.

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

9

EMPLOYMENT OF MARRIED WOMEN
Table 3 shows that from 1940 to 1950 there was a marked increase
in the proportion of women in the population who were married, and
a considerably greater increase in the proportion of women in the
labor force who were married. Although a much larger proportion
of single than of married women are in gainful work, the proportion
of married women who have entered the labor force has increased
notably in the last 30 years, to an especially great extent during and
since World War II. In 1951, half the single women, over a third
of the widowed and divorced, and over a fourth of the married were
in the labor force.
Table 3.

Marital Status op Women op Working Age
Labor Force, 1900-1951
1900 j

Marital status

in

Population

and

1910
1920

1930

1940

1950

1951

PERCENT DISTRIBUTION IN POPULATION

All groups____________

100

100

100

100

100

100

4 34
55

Single....... ............... .
Married...______
Widowed or divorced _

132
57
11

Ml
59

»28
60
12

128
59
13

20

19

66

66

14

14

11

(3)

100

PERCENT DISTRIBUTION IN LABOR FORCE

All groups____

_____

4100

4100

4100

100

100

100

100

167
15
18

Single__________
Married_
_ _______
Widowed or divorced..

161
24
15

377

154
29
17

49
36
15

32
52
16

29
55
16

5 27

31

32

8 32

36

36

23
(3)

PERCENT OF POPULATION IN EACH MARITAL GROUP WHO WERE IN LABOR FORCE

All groups_____________

_

Single___________
Married_____ ___
Widowed or divorced. _

4 20

4 25

4 4i

4 48

46
4 33

4 35

4 23

24
1 AC

m

34

50

1 Includes “unknown.”

\ Includes widowed, divorced, and unknown.

3 Included with single.
4 “Gainfully employed.”
ye8am?USted ^°r comPara^^^Y with later years (each of them 2 points above figure comparable to earlier

Source: Women’s Bureau Bull. 218, table 4, p. 39; and Census Series P-50, Nos. 22, 29, 39.

Information on the age and family income of employed mothers
is not available. However, data on these subjects for all married
women workers are of some interest, although they do not give an
accurate picture of the situation of mothers, since mothers (of chil­
dren under 18) are only 40 percent of all married women workers.
The median age of married women in the labor force is 38.2 years;
of the group of women who are widowed, divorced, and separated,
47.7 years; and of the single women, 24.3 years. (Half the women

10

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

are older, half younger, than the median figure.) Of the married
women in the labor force over 40 percent are under 35 years of age,
and 30 percent are 45 or older. Of the widowed, divorced, and sepa­
rated group, 20 percent are under 35 and almost 60 percent are 45
years of age or older. Of the single women 70 percent are under 35,
and only 16 percent are 45 or older.
Wives enter the labor force to a greater extent in urban areas
than elsewhere. Census reports on family income show that a much
larger proportion of wives enter the labor force, especially in urban
areas, when the husband’s income is under $3,000 than when his
income is $5,000 or more. The following summary shows details
of this.
Wife’s 1951 Participation

in

Labor Force

and

1950 Income

of

Husband

Percent of wives in labor
force, 1951

Income of husband, I960
Under $1,000.______________________________________________
$1,000, under $2,000
$2,000, under $3,000
- ______
$3,000, under $4,000- -____________________________
$4,000, under $5,000
$5,000, under $6,000
$6,000, under $10,000 ______________________
$10,000 and over------- -----------------------------------------------------------

^states

m-eas

29
28

28

34
34
32

21
16

21
17

2728

11
12

11

Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Series P-60, No. 9, Mar. 25, 1952.

CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS THAT AIDIWORKING
MOTHERS
Community attention to daytime care of the children of working
mothers is a logical outgrowth of the widespread employment of
mothers, referred to on page 6. It has been accelerated in recent
decades when the economic conditions of depression and wartime
brought increased numbers of mothers into the labor force, although
the employment of mothers is by no means new to the American
scene. Response to the needs of working mothers’ children for child
care has developed partly from the educational focus on the preschool
child and group programs for school-age children outside of school
hours, partly as an aspect of the even older public interest in the wel­
fare of the underprivileged child. It remained for the experiences
of World War II to draw these two influences somewhat more closely
together in objectives and standards. The pages following give a brief
outline of the chief types of care for young children. Where these
exist in a community, they can be of invaluable aid to the working
mother, though most of them do not confine their services to her
children but also serve children whose mothers are not employed.

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

11

DAY NURSERIES AND CHILD-CARE CENTERS

Day nurseries to care for children of employed mothers were first
established by welfare groups in several large cities. The first such
nursery in the United States opened in 1854 at Nursery and Child’s
Hospital, New York City. Employed mothers who had been patients
in this hospital left their children under the care of nurses. Similar
day nurseries were opened in 1858 in Troy, N. Y., and in 1863 in
Philadelphia. By 1897, it was estimated that 175 nurseries had been
established in various cities, located mainly in settlement houses.4 The
day nurseries were chiefly custodial and provided little of educational
value for the young child. Children were admitted after careful case
work investigation of the mother and the family situation. The
change in attitudes toward eligibility of cases, as the reasons why
mothers often worked became better known, is illustrated by the fol­
lowing statement made by Mrs. Arthur M. Dodge at the National Con­
ference of Charities and Correction in 1912:
The basic rule of assistance for deserted women or widows obliged to work
underlies all day nursery work, but industrial conditions have changed to
such an extent that exceptions must be made and there are now more cases
where both father and mother are working. The low prices paid for unskilled
labor, the scarcity of work for men in some communities where women find
no difficulty in obtaining employment, illness or partial disability of husbands
are all factors in determining cases * * *.5

Many of the day nurseries and day-care centers in the country, which
are chiefly under welfare auspices, public or private, have a long his­
tory of active existence. For example, in cities the Women’s Bureau
visited in 1951, a day-care center now operating in New Haven was
opened about 1871, one in Cleveland began in 1882, and one in Colorado
Springs was opened in 1897; all these were endowed and also received
Community Chest funds.
Licensing of day nurseries or day-care centers is provided for in
35 States either by specific legislation or in general licensing laws by
specific mention or interpretation. The State welfare department has
the responsibility for licensing in 26 of these States.6 In one the local
and in five the State health authorities are the licensing agencies, in
one of the latter with approval of the State welfare department.7
‘White House Conference on Child Health and Protection: Section III, Education and
Training. Report of the Committee on the Infant and Preschool Child, p. 7. 1931.
5 Proceedings of the Thirty-ninth National Conference of Charities and Correction, June
12-19, 1912, p. 115.
8 Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisi­
ana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Caro­
lina, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West
Virginia, and Wisconsin.
7 Local health authorities in Massachusetts ; State health authorities in Connecticut,
District of Columbia, New Mexico, Oregon, and in Kansas with State welfare authority
approval.
230074—33------ 3

12

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

In only one State, New Jersey, the State educational authorities who
authorize nursery schools also certify day-care centers. In Colorado
licensing; is under a special board of standards of child care in the
State.
AID TO DEPENDENT CHILDREN

Parallel to the growth of nurseries for children of working mothers
was the development in social thinking and practice in regard to
neglected and abandoned children. The details of care for these
children are not a true part of this report, but it may be noted here
that at the close of 1951 aid to dependent children was being received
by over one-half million families in the country.8 9 A 1948 study
showed 16 percent of mothers receiving such aid at that time to be in
the labor force.
EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

The programs so far discussed are directed primarily toward care
for children of working mothers or for underprivileged children.
Developments also have taken place in the educational field aside from
the usual provisions for school-age children in school hours. The
first of these was directed toward the preschool child, and a later
development has been that of group programs for school-age chil­
dren in after-school hours or in vacation periods. It is at once appar­
ent that in communities where such plans are in operation they can
be of untold aid to working mothers and their children, though their
services are by no means limited to this group of children. The ex­
tension of school services, though not confined to working mothers’
children, developed during World War II on a much wTider scale than
ever before. (See p. 19.)
The preschool child.—Group training for the preschool child fol­
lowed studies of the psychological development and needs of young
children. The kindergarten took children at 4 or 5 years and empha­
sized preschool training as an aid to later school training. Based on
a child-study movement 42 private kindergartens were in operation
in this country by 1873, when the first public-school kindergarten
was established.
In all States but one (Arkansas) the law either expressly or im­
pliedly authorizes kindergartens in the public schools—in 32 by the
use of State funds, in the remainder from local tax levies. A study
by the National Education Association reports that, in 1,518 city
school systems surveyed, almost 60 percent, or about 900 cities, had
kindergartens in 1948. The number of kindergartens had increased
30 percent in a 10-year period.”
8 Social Security Bulletin, March 1952, p. 32, reports 591.810 families.
9 National Education Association : Trends in City School Organization, 1938-48.

search Bull., February 1949.

Tables 9 and 10.

Re­

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

13

A later development was the nursery school for children aged 2 to 4
years. These usually were founded as research centers, often in con­
nection with universities and colleges in which teacher training was
sometimes combined with research in child growth and develop­
ment.10 11
They seek to supplement and aid home training, to give the
child his earlier group experiences, and at the same time to inculcate
in him an appreciation for the basic values of home life. They focus
attention on the very young child’s mental, social, and emotional de­
velopment. Today many of the large universities provide housing for
parent-sponsored cooperative nursery schools, which often have pro­
fessional assistance from faculty members. Among these are, for
example, the University of Chicago and the Universities of Illinois,
Indiana, Michigan, and Iowa.
The laws of 14 States permit nursery schools to be operated in con­
nection with public schools, though two of these specify that the costs
must be met from sources other than school funds.11 The National
Education Association report to which reference has been made shows
that, of the 1,518 school systems surveyed, over 165 cities had nursery
schools and over 150 had child-care centers. Four out of five of these
had been established within a 10-year period, though in more than
half the cities these programs were being curtailed. The curtailments
were especially great in New England and on the west coast, with
expansions occurring in the southwestern cities.
Extended school services.—Many public schools have developed ac­
tivity programs outside school hours for children of 6 to 14 years.
School and public welfare authorities in a number of cities visited by
the W omen’s Bureau felt that children of these ages were in particular
need of further facilities in the community. The full extent of such
provisions in the United States is not known. California has had the
most complete State-supported extended school program, though funds
have been voted and renewed on a short-term basis. Other notable
programs developed have been those in Milwaukee and, during the
war, in Seattle.
The Office of Education reported in 1948-49 that, of 100 school sys­
tems visited in 43 States, 54 had extended programs of some type;
some schools gave service until 6, a few had Saturday programs of
10 In 1915, the faculty wives of the University of Chicago began a cooperative nursery
school; in 1919, the Bureau of Educational Experiments in New York started one, and in
1921 Teachers College of Columbia University opened one. In 1922, the Merrill-Palmer
School in Detroit was founded ; in 1924, the Iowa State College school opened ; a year later
Cornell University and Ohio State opened schools and Franklin Public School Nursery was
started. The Yale Psycho-Clinic Guidance Nursery was opened in 1924. In the same
year, Vassar, Smith, and Antioch Colleges started nursery schools, and in 1927 Mills College
opened one.
11 Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New
Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin. In Illinois and Oregon
support must be from money other than school funds. In Connecticut, Louisiana, Missouri,
and Tennessee the law gives power to local school boards to authorize nursery schools.

14

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

4 to 6 hours, and 42 school systems operated a 4 to 10 weeks’ summer
program. Frequently schools in crowded areas are given priority
when these programs are planned.12
HOME CARE OTHER THAN IN CHILD’S OWN HOME

If the knowledge as to day nurseries, day-care centers, nursery
schools, and extended school services is incomplete, the extent to which
children are cared for in private homes on a commercial basis—either
by day only or on a 24-hour schedule—is even more of a twilight zone
of information, except to the extent licensed. Where any data exist
for such a comparison, the number of children receiving day care in
known facilities in a community usually is small in comparison with
the number of married women employed in the same area. If 40
percent of the employed women have children (the national figure)
the indication is that in most places the great majority of children
of working mothers must receive any daytime care that they get
either by the frequently preferred methods of family work adjust­
ment or the care of some relative, friend, or neighbor, or of a nurse­
maid employed by the family, or else in a commercially operated
home.
This conclusion is further supported by the large number of re­
quests for day care of children that the existing agencies receive
but cannot fill in most of the communities visited by the Women’s
Bureau in 1951 and 1952. The Bureau also found that, even in com­
munities where provision is made for licensing them, the number of
homes giving day care usually is not fully known, though authorities
responsible for licensing make every effort to fulfill their function.
Furthermore, licensing provisions frequently apply only to those
homes that take a specified number of children, such as three or four,
or more, and the number of private persons caring for fewer children
is not known.
CHILD-CARE PROVISIONS IN PERIODS OF ECONOMIC
STRESS
The marked increase in the employment of married women in the
postwar years, as well as during World War II, has been a major
influence in the recognition that nursery schools and day-care centers
for working mothers’ children are a part of the established pattern
of the economic life of the mid-twentieth century. The federally
sponsored Work Projects Administration and Lanham Act programs
provided a more Avidespread experience with such services than
formerly had been available. This acquainted mothers and the public
with their advantages.
»Federal Security Agency, Office of Education : Organization and Supervision of Ele­
mentary Schools in 100 Cities. 1950.

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

15

IN WORLD WAR I

In the World War I period such nursery schools and day-care
services as existed for working mothers were on a local basis, and
over-all information in regard to them is not available, although the
child-welfare department of the Woman’s Committee of the Council
of National Defense was interested in their establishment in war­
manufacturing areas.13 A considerable part of the extensive entry of
women into the World War I labor force was felt to be temporary,
and in fact the percent of increase from 1910 to 1920 in the employ­
ment of women was smaller than in any other decade.14 15
Furthermore,
the proportion of married women who were in gainful work remained
about the same through the decades 1910 to 1930, and the marked
increase did not show up until 1940. (See table 3, p. 9.) Employed
mothers undoubtedly depended with great frequency on relatives or
neighbors for care of their children, though there is no measure by
which the extent of this can be compared with the experience in later
periods.
IN THE ECONOMIC DEPRESSION OF THE EARLY 1930's

When the economic depression of the 1930’s impelled the Govern­
ment to make plans to increase employment, nursery schools were
among the types of educational work organized. They were specifi­
cally authorized by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration in
October 1933. They enabled many children to attend nursery schools
whose families otherwise could not have given them this experience,
even though the primary objective had been to give useful work to
unemployed persons and though these services had to be fitted in
among other work projects.
In 1934-35, the Works Progress Administration reported some 1,900
nursery schools in which 75,000 children were enrolled. Early in
1938 the Administrator estimated that more than 200,000 children
of low-income families had benefited from these schools.16 As the
country moved toward greater prosperity, fewer families were eligible
to send children to the WPA schools, but the value of nursery schools
had been so fully shown that public demand for them continued.
IN WORLD WAR II

During World War II women were drawn into the labor force more
extensively than at any previous time in this country’s history. This
was an inevitable result of the demand for an increased labor supply to
1S Emily Newell Blair: The Woman’s Committee. U. S. Council of National Defense
1920. P. 81.
14 Women’s Occupations Through Seven Decades. Women’s Bureau Bull 218
See
p. 83.
15 H. L. Hopkins : Inventory and Appraisal of Results of Works Progress Administration
1938.

16

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

manufacture war materiel and to carry on essential civilian services at
tlie same time that men were being drawn from civilian jobs into the
armed services. From June 1940 to June 1942 more than 2 million
women were added to the labor force. The demand for workers con­
tinued to increase, and by June 1943 more than another 3 million
women were added, and still the peak in woman employment was not
reached. Before the war, single women were only 27 percent of the
woman population and almost half of them already were in the labor
force. Married women constituted the country’s greatest labor re­
serve. The proportion of married women in the labor force increased
from 15 percent in the prewar period to 23 pecent in the wTar period
while among single women the increase was from 46 percent to 55
percent. More than 3 million married women entered the labor force
from 1940 to 1944. Many of these were mothers, though figures as
to the exact number are not available.
Many communities were seriously concerned over the situation as
to care of working mothers’ children, which became increasingly acute.
These children were not eligible to attend the still-existing WPA nurs­
eries, wdiich were open only to those whose parents had very limited
income. Private nurseries existed chiefly in the larger cities, while
many of the working mothers were in communities that had mush­
roomed with new war-production plants. Even where private nurs­
eries existed their capacity was limited, and of course their fees had
to cover costs at least. There were practically no facilities for the
care of school-age children after school. Increased juvenile delin­
quency in some communities and high absenteeism in some war-manu­
facturing plants often were attributed to the lack of adequate child­
care services.
Federal agencies were seeking means to assist hard-pressed local­
ities with this problem, and to secure Federal funds for this purpose.
Comments from employed mothers, officials of war industries, and
others interested in the problems of child care for working mothers
pointed up the possibility that the WPA nurseries, if a change in
admission requirements were effected, could become the nucleus around
which a Federal child-care program for employed mothers could be
established.16 After a year and a half of effort, supplemented by
organized work of many State agencies, a vigorous program was
at length under way by mid-1943. It operated for about 2y2 emer­
gency years, until Federal funds ceased to be available in February
1946. The brief discussion that follows indicates the agencies most
active in developing this program, and the scope of its services.
Federal welfare and educational agencies.—The Chief of the Chil­
dren’s Bureau, then in the Department of Labor, who had been named
16 Donald S. Howard: “Lanliam Act in Action.”
p. 38.

Survey Midmonthly, February 1943,

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

17

Child Welfare Consultant to the Coordinator of Health, Welfare and
Related Defense Activities,17 called a national conference on day care
of children of working mothers, which convened in July 1941. The
participants in this conference included representatives from the
United States Office of Education, Work Projects Administration,
Women’s Bureau, State and local welfare departments, councils of
social agencies, Catholic community services, business and profes­
sional women’s clubs, professional nursery-school groups, tradeunions, and others interested and active in maintaining community
welfare through a planned program for children of working mothers.18
State groups also developed more concerted activities, and by May
1942 State-wide child-care committees were in existence in 19 States
and local groups were planning programs of child care in countless
communities.
In July 1942 a sum of $400,000 was granted to the Office of Educa­
tion and the Children’s Bureau from the President’s emergency
fund. This was to plan and coordinate child-care activities on the
State and local levels through grants to States on the basis of State
plans approved by the Children’s Bureau or the Office of Education.
State plans for programs of extended school services were submitted
by departments of education in 33 States and approved by the Office
of Education and the Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services.
Grants totaling $163,143 were made to States, enabling them to employ
specialized personnel to work with communities expanded by war in­
dustries to set up school programs for working mothers’ children. At
the same time grants were made to public welfare agencies in 28 States
to set up day-care centers and other services for working mothers’
children, under plans made by these State agencies and approved by
the Children’s Bureau and the Office of Defense Health and Welfare
Services. The program financed from the President’s emergency
fund was discontinued June 30, 1943, because of legal restrictions on
use of this fund.
The Federal Works Agency.—In the meantime, another Federal
agency that had the allocation of large wartime funds had been seek­
ing authorization to enable it to aid in the child-care program. In
June 1941, Congress passed Public Law 137 (the Lanham Act) as­
signing responsibilty to the Federal Works Agency “to provide for
the acquisition and equipment of public works (community facilities)
made necessary by the defense program.”19 The language contained
17 The Federal Security Administrator was designated by the Council of National Defense
as Coordinator of Health, Welfare and Related Defense Activities on November 28, 1940.
18 U. S. Department of Labor, Children’s Bureau : Proceedings of Conference on Day
Care of Children of Working Mothers, Washington, D. C., July 31 and August 1, 1941.
Bureau Publication 281. P. 74. 1942.
18 United States Statutes at Large. 77tli Cong., 1st sess., 1941-42, Vol. 1 Part 1 Public
Law 137. Pp. 361-363.

18

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

no specific provision that child-care facilities would come within the
meaning of public works.
The liberalization of this law, sought by the Federal Works Agency,
was granted in August 1942 by the Committee on Buildings and
Grounds, whose members recognized the imperative need and specified
that child-care centers were public works within the meaning of the
act.20 The Federal Works Administrator organized within his agency
a War Public Service Di vision, thus enabling hundreds of the WPA
nursery schools to be continued with Lanham Act funds.
The Commissioner of WPA in January 1943 sent a letter to all
State administrators stating that “nursery schools and day nursery
services * * * which have a war-connected need and are eligible
for operation under the Lanham Act, may be operated by the Work
Projects Administration, pending approval of War Public Service
applications, even though other WPA activities in the States have
been closed.”21 Provision thus was made under the Lanham Act for
the first allotment of Federal funds directly to communities for war­
time child-care centers. All applications made for such centers were
to be cleared with the Office of Education of the Federal Security
Agency, for certification as to war necessity and program standards,
in accordance with a Presidential directive of February 12, 1942.
More than 95 percent of the projects receiving Federal funds were
operated by educational authorities. In instances where the appli­
cant was an agency other than the schools, clearance was made with
the Children’s Bureau.
In July 1943, Public Law 150 was passed appropriating additional
funds to carry out the community-facilities provisions of the Lanham
Act, and further established the authority of the Federal Works
Agency over the wartime child-care centers. The Administrators of
the Federal Works Agency and of the Federal Security Agency,
together with the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, then held a
series of meetings to set forth the respective responsibilities of each
agency, and resolve the divided administrative responsibilities that
had developed.
The resulting agreement approved by the President on August 13,
1943, stated in substance that the Federal Works Agency had the
primary responsibility for assembling data necessary for a determi­
nation of community need, which would be referred for recommenda­
tions to the appropriate Federal agencies on the regional level. Such
recommendations would generally be confined to questions of need for
services. When the regional representatives strongly disagreed with
the procedures of the Federal Works Agency Kegional Office, the
disagreement would be settled at the Federal level. The final judg­
20 Federal Works Agency : Final Report of the War Service Programs. July 1046, p. 63.
21 Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration : Commissioner’s Letter No. 9

to all State Work Projects Administrators.

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

19

ment as to the extent to which the need was to be met and the types of
projects to be submitted to the President for approval, then rested
with the Federal Works Agency.
Child-care centers and children enrolled.22—The number of child­
care center's receiving financial assistance from the Federal Govern­
ment varied from month to month. The first regular report, August
1943, showed 49,197 children enrolled in 1,726 centers operating with
an average daily attendance of 36,923. Enrollments, attendance, and
number of units in operation continued to increase, with few excep­
tions every month until the peak in July 1944, when 3,102 units were
in operation servicing 129,357 children, with an average daily attend­
ance of 109,202. About 60 percent of the children served throughout
the program were of preschool age.
The November 1944 report showed 2,828 extended school service
units in operation with an enrollment of 105,263 children. Almost
half these children were in centers taking only nursery-school ages,
not far from a third in centers having only school-age children, the
remainder in centers serving children in both age groups.
It is difficult to establish the total number of different children
cared for during the life of the Lanham Act program, since there
was considerable turnover throughout the period as families moved
from one area to another, changed employment, or withdrew their
children from centers for various reasons. However, it has been
estimated that roughly 550,000 to 600,000 different children received
care at one time or another during the period of time Lanham Act
funds were dispensed for these purposes.
Geographic distribution and proportion of Federal aid.23—Every
State had some child-care centers financed with the aid of Lanham
Act funds, except New Mexico, which applied for none. Centers
were located in highly concentrated areas of war-production activities.
The largest number were in California, with 392 units, the next in
Washington State with 103, New. York had 84, Georgia and Illinois
each about 70, and eight other States had over 40 each (Florida, Mary­
land, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
and Tennessee).
The centers received about two-thirds of their funds from the Fed­
eral Government. The centers in only three States were financed as
much as three-fourths from Federal funds (Rhode Island, Washing­
ton, and West Virginia), and in only two was as little as half the
support from Federal sources (Nevada and North Dakota).
Close of Federal program—After the war, the number of centers
decreased gradually, then more rapidly. Federal funds finally were
discontinued at the end of February 1946. Communities continued
22 Federal Works Agency : Final Report of the War Service Program.
80, 81.
23 Ibid., pp. 78, 79, 82, 83.
236074—53------ 4

See pp. 75, 76,

20

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

programs with local funds for periods varying in length. After the
withdrawal of Federal funds, State funds were made available in
California, New York, Washington, the District of Columbia, and
to a limited extent in Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the Public Housing
Administration had provided in many housing projects facilities for
nursery schools and recreation centers, without charge for space to
schools or other community agencies that would operate services.
Value and handicaps of World War II program.—In spite of the
marked values of the wartime child-care program, some of them of
a more or less permanent character, the program suffered from many
disadvantages, not least of which was the reflection in various com­
munities of the lack of clarity in the enabling legislation and the
resulting confusion of authority at the Federal level. Provision for
facilities had to be authorized, under the Federal Works Agency,
by construction engineers not familiar with the requirements for
handling child-care services. Federal money could be granted only
to supplement community resources, or take their place where none
was available, and once the Federal Works Agency had approved a
community plan it could not further control operations in the locality.
Moreover, this was a program providing only for the group care or
activities of children. It was not available for other types of child
care or auxiliary services that could constitute a more complete pro­
gram, as for example, foster-home service, counseling, or homemaker
services. In the nature of the case, planning was done on a short-time
emergency basis and attention could not be focused extensively on
long-term implications.
With all these handicaps, this World War II child-care program
developed, with the aid of Federal funds, day care and extended
school services on a more far-reaching basis than there had been at
any previous time. Undoubtedly it marked a far more general under­
standing than ever before, both by many cooperating agencies and
by the public in general, of the working mother’s problems and the
community’s responsibilities in assisting with them. Employers also
testified that the nurseries had great value in reducing absenteeism and
turn-over in their plants. Perhaps one of the more lasting effects was
that the planning and operation of the program brought educational
and welfare authorities to a better understanding of each other’s poli­
cies and objectives, and created a more general public knowledge of
the standards recommended by educational and welfare agencies.
IN THE DEFENSE PERIOD OF THE EARLY 1950's

The increasing employment of women was accelerated after Korean
hostilities began, and the subject of care of working mothers’ children
again came to the fore. The Defense Housing and Community Facili­
ties and Services Act of September 1951 (Public Law 139, 82d Cong.)

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS

21

authorizes loans or grants to public or nonprofit agencies to provide
community facilities or services, the definition including day-care
centers. However, when funds were provided, the use of money for
this purpose was specifically excluded. An Executive order of Octo­
ber 2, 1951, placed responsibility for day-care facilities and services
under the act with the Federal Security Administrator or units in
his agency that he would designate. Provision for school construc­
tion and maintenance was not included in this act because it was
to be included in amendments to two 1950 acts providing Federal
aid in school construction and maintenance in areas expanded by
Federal defense installations.
CHILD-CARE FACILITIES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE
Discussion of the various types of day care for working mothers’
children and the various auspices under which they may be available
indicates the difficulty of obtaining an over-all picture of the num­
ber of such facilities. Still less possible is it to say how many
mothers or how many children they serve. Enrollments always are
larger than the number of children present on any one day. Some
of the following indications as to numbers have been mentioned
elsewhere in this report.
Indications of Available Facilities
[Asterisk denotes those probably best adapted for the working mother]
Reporting Agency

Date

Findings

Under School Auspices
Report of School Systems in 1,518
1948
Over 900 cities had public kinder­
cities, by National Education
gartens. The number of such
Association. (See pp. 12-13.)
kindergartens had increased 30
percent in 10 years. 165 cities
had public nursery schools.
*Over 150 cities had public
child-care centers.
*54 had extended school pro­
grams.

Report on 100 School Systems in 1948-49
43 States by Office of Education.
(See p. 13.)
Under Welfare Agencies
Report to Children’s Bureau by
Community Chests, Inc., for 41
cities.
Reports of Federal Security
Agency, 1951. (See p. 12.)

1948

*Day care was received by 22,400
children.

1951

Aid for dependent children was
received by more than onehalf million families.

Under Various Auspices
Merrill-Palmer School, Detroit.
1950
*Reports 3,525 nursery schools
Directory of Nursery Schools
or centers in the country as a
and Child-Care Centers. Pubwhole,
lished 1951; report on 1950 data.

(See p. 22.)

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

22

It is probable that the number of privately operated nursery
schools or day-care facilities has increased greatly in the postwar
period, and this was indicated in a number of the areas visited by
the Women’s Bureau in 1951-52. However, concrete data to sub­
stantiate the extent of this are lacking. Influences that logically
would contribute to the growth of such services are the increase in the
number of working mothers and employed wives, the withdrawal of
the Lanham Act facilities that had proved of such marked usefulness
to employed mothers, and the general growth in knowledge of the
advantages to young children of early group experiences. The in­
crease in number of kindergartens in the past decade also would sug­
gest increased demands for services for young children. (See p. 12.)
The first effort to prepare a comprehensive directory of nursery
schools and day-care centers reported 3,500 public and private facil­
ities of these types in 1949-50. This compilation was made by the
Merrill-Palmer School of Detroit, Mich., widely known in the field of
nursery school education and research. Information as to the number
of facilities and types of sponsors was secured for this volume by
correspondence with State and local welfare agencies, children’s or­
ganizations, and other key sources such as United States Children’s
Bureau and the United States Office of Education. The report states
that the data are at best approximations, since it often was impossible
to determine under which category some of the schools and centers
would correctly fall. Furthermore, it sums up at a given period of
time a situation that is continually changing. However, this Direc­
tory of Nursery Schools is valuable since it gives the most compre­
hensive figures of this sort available.
Of the facilities reported that could be classified, over 40 percent
were private schools or centers, conducted on a commercial basis.
More than a tenth were under community auspices, another tenth
under educational authorities, State or local. Eight percent were
cooperative and the same proportion were church sponsored.
Sponsorship

of

Nursery Schools

and

Day-Care Centers, 1950

Type of sponsor

Total
Private nursery schools and centers
Community nursery schools and centers----------------------------Public school nursery schools and centers
State Department of Education (292).
Local public schools (68).
Church affiliated schools and centers_________
___
Cooperative schools and centers- ----Laboratory nursery schools (auspices of university or college) Philanthropic nursery schools and centers
Industrial nursery schools------------------------------------ -------

Number

Percent

3, 525

100

1, 530
501
360

43
14
10

264
263
220
46
17

8
8
6
1
1

23

DEVELOPMENT OF CHILD-CARE PROGRAMS
Sponsorship

op

Nursery Schools

and

Day-Care Centers, 1950—Continued

Type of sponsor

Number

Other nursery schools and centers_________________________
Schools for exceptional children (76).
Summer day camps (19).
Not elsewhere classified (229).

Percent

324

9

Source: A Directory of Nursery Schools and Child-Care Centers in the United States. Merrill-Palraer
School. Detroit, 1951. (Figures for 1950.)

More than three-fourths of these schools or centers were located in
only 16 States. In fact over half of the facilities were in 6 States
(California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and
Ohio). It is scarcely surprising that these States also are among those
with the largest numbers of employed women in the country.
In most of these States, by far the largest group were private schools
or centers. In California, the State educational funds have assisted
the activities, and in several States a number have been developed on
a cooperative basis. Church affiliates sponsored from somewhat less
than a tenth to almost a fifth of the facilities in a number of States.
Table 4 shows further details as to numbers and sponsorship of nursery
schools and child-care centers in the 16 States that had 78 percent
of all those in the country, according to this report.
Table 4.—State Distribution
by

of Nursery Schools and
Sponsorship, 1950

Total
State

Total
California 2______________
New York_. _ .
Illinois ____________ _
_
New Jersey_______ ___ ___
Ohio..... ............. ............. ...
South Carolina
Tennessee_____ Washington 2___ _______
Maryland
Connecticut.........................
Minnesota
Florida __________ _____
Other 32 States and District
of Columbia

Num­
ber

Day-Care Centers,

Type of sponsor

Per­
cent

Pri­
vate

Com­
mu­
nity

Public
educa­ Church Coop­
tion
affil­
era­
author­ iates
tives
ities

Lab­
ora­
tory

All
other 1

3,525

100

1,530

501

360

264

263

220

387

626
503
227
172
152
138
113
113
113
95
92

18
14

174
233
151

76
40

4
4

55
17

50
8

17
5

68
2

5

10

8

1

17
5

83
78
75
75

2

46
76
25

25
25
7
18
4
41

2
2

51

13

22

352

125

88

782

6

5
4
4
3
3
3
3
3
3

64
55
38
51
40
20

61
37

23
10
10

19

10

21

3

9

2
10

1

3

8

2

3
27

62

12

104

100

1 Includes schools or centers sponsored by philanthropic agencies (46), industrial firms (17), schools for
exceptional children (76), summer day camps (19), and nursery schools or centers not elsewhere classified
J State public school funds depend on current legislative appropriations and have been eliminated in
some sessions since this report.
Source: A Directory of Nursery Schools and Child-Care Centers in the United States. Merrill-Palmer
School. Detroit. 1951. (Figures for 1950.)

Part II
Care for Working Mothers’ Children in Selected
Communities in 1951—52
AREAS VISITED AND FINDINGS
CHARACTER OF AREAS

Women’s Bureau visits in 1951 or 1952 included 28 cities and
towns in 12 States in all parts of tlie country. Together these areas
employed more than 14 percent of the woman labor force in urban
areas in the entire country. It follows that the pertinent case studies
as to child day care presented here illustrate the situation through
much of the United States, as reported by persons well-informed
locally. Though they vary greatly from place to place, they show
certain aspects of considerable similarity.
The industrial character of these areas presents wide variations,
though almost all were engaged in defense production of some type.
Several had ordnance plants or arsenals, others had large Government
installations, such as air-force experimental bases or administrative
services, atomic-energy plants, shipbuilding or naval centers. A num­
ber were among the country’s great centers of aircraft manufacture.
Others made aircraft parts, precision instruments, electrical supplies,
and light or heavy metal products. Almost all the acutely labor-tight
areas that might have special demands for additional women workers
were included. Three were State capitals, which require many clerical
workers.
Employment of women ranged from the great metropolis with over
574,000 women workers (Los Angeles) to the small city with less than
2,500 (Idaho Falls). More than a third of the areas or cities had
over 55,000 women workers, five having more than 90,000, as table
5 shows. Others had fewer than 5,000 women workers.
In about half these areas, women were 29 to 33 percent of the labor
force, much the same as the 31 percent in urban areas in the United
States as a whole. In a few areas, women were a notably smaller
proportion of the workers, in a few they were a markedly larger
proportion—the entire range was from 24 percent of the labor force in
the steel city of Gary, and 25 percent in Pueblo, to 34 percent in the
insurance city of Hartford, and in New Haven and Dallas, and 36
24

25

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

percent in Colorado Springs. Data as to marital status of women
workers are not fully available by area, but such data as the Women’s
Bureau field representatives found available will be shown in the dis­
cussion of the individual areas to which they apply.
The increases in the labor force that have occurred in all these areas
over the past decade, some of them enormous, suggest the possible
extent of increased need for day care of children whose mothers work.
In half the cities and towns visited the number of women workers had
increased by 1950 from half to over three-fourths above 1940; in only
three cities had the increase been less than a fourth, all in Connecticut.
This marked growth in the employment of women was but a part of a
great expansion in the entire working population in these areas, since
in most of them there was but little advance over the decade in the
proportion women were of all workers. The greatest changes were
only 6 points in two cities and 5 points in several others. Table 5
shows the number of women workers in the areas visited as reported
by the decennial census, and the changes from 1940 to 1950.
Table 5.—Employment

Area

United States: Urban
areas 1
Los Angeles_______
San Francisco ...
Milwaukee-.........
Dallas______ . _
Seattle____ .
Indianapolis.
Denver___ .
San Diego___ ...
Dayton..............
Hartford__________
Akron________
Davenport, Rock Island,
Moline 3___
Davenport____ _____
Rock Island, Moline,
East Moline______
Wichita _
New Haven 3___
South Bend_____
Bridgeport
.
Waterbury______ . _
Rockford_____
Gary 3____
New Britain 3
Stamford 3___
Pueblo_____ ____
Colorado Springs 3_..
Burlington 3___
Idaho Falls 3____ .

of

Women in 1950 in Selected Areas
1940 to 1950

Number of
women in
total labor
force, 1950

Increase in woman
labor force, 1940 to
1950
Number

Percent

Percent of women
in population who
were in labor force
1940

1950

Increase

and

Women as percent
of all workers
1940

1950

12, 533,000

2, 926, 789

30

31

33

29

31

574,104
295,059
116,043
93, 400
91, 669
77, 664
71, 943
55, 491
54,831
55, 841
45, 757

226, 430
116,007
28, 990
33, 648
33, 494
20, 577
24, 904
27, 433
20, 766
13, 989
12, 587

65
65
33
56
58
36
53
98
61
33
38

28
30
28
36
28
30
28
24
26
34
25

32
34
34
38
33
35
33
27
31
39
29

28
26
27
32
26
28
28
23
25
31
24

31
30
30
34
32
30
23
29
34
27

26, 532
11, 345

7, 279
2,836

38
33

24
25

30
29

23
24

27
27

15,187
26,306
24, 331
23, 871
23, 556
15,807
14, 203
13,818
11,884
10, 543
8, 245
6,670
3, 963
2,194

4, 443
10,356
65
6,320
1,140
1,462
3, 401
5, 439
2,611
3, 641
2, 759
2,135
1,096
845

41
65
c)
36
5

24
27
36
28
37
36
31

30
31
37
31
37
38
37
28
40
35
25
34
31
32

22

10

31
65
28
53
50
47
38
63

20

34
36
20

28
26
25

27

27
33
26
32
30
28
18
29
31

34
27
32
33
32
24
33
32

32
27
23

36
30
29

22

Preliminary report, 1950 Census, Series PC.
The area comprises the 2 counties of Rock Island, 111., and Scott, Iowa.
Urban area only.
Percent not shown where less than 1.
Source: U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Unless otherwise shown, from Final
Reports, 1950, Series PB for States; and Census of 1940. Vols. II and III. Data are for metropolitan area
if available; otherwise, as indicated, for urban areas only.
1
2
3
4

26

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Data showing changes in the past year also are available, from
current estimates made by the Employment Service for 21 of the 28
cities or towns the Women’s Bureau visited, as shown in table 6.
Totals include only nonagricultural occupations and omit household
employees and the self-employed. The estimates cannot be fully com­
pared with census data.
Increases in number of women in these nonagricultural occupa­
tions continued to a notable extent from 1951 to 1952 in a third of the
areas for which current information is available, though in some there
were declines. Increases were especially great in west coast cities
and in Denver, Wichita, and Dallas. (Changes noted are to the fall
of 1952 where data available, otherwise to the spring.) In most areas
the proportion women constituted of all workers varied but little in
the year’s time. Some declines in women’s employment had occurred
from the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952 in most of the Connecticut
cities, apparently due largely to decreases in the trade occupations.
A few Midwestern cities also showed some decline.
The extent to which women workers were in trade occupations is
of interest in a consideration of child care, since these are occupations
that may afford part-time work to mothers. In a third of the locali­
ties reported here 30 percent or more of the women workers were in
trade, and in another third fewer than 25 percent were in trade. The
range was 36 to 41 percent in South Bend, Denver, Indianapolis, and
Seattle; 12 to 17 percent in most Connecticut cities.
Manufacturing occupations are less likely than some of those in
trade to have possibilities for adjusting time schedules of working
mothers to meet their arrangements for child care. In half of the
areas shown in table 6 a third or more of the women nonagricultural
workers were in manufacturing. Over 60 percent were factory work­
er’s in two of the smaller Connecticut cities. Fifteen percent or fewer
of these women workers were in manufacturing in some of the far
western cities that were centers for trade or had Government installa­
tions that would require large clerical forces. Increases were very
marked over the past year in the proportions of women workers who
were in manufacturing in Wichita and two prominent west coast air­
craft centers.
EXISTING CHILD-CARE FACILITIES

Every area visited, with a single exception, had some nursery or
center for the day care of children, though several had no public
facility. This is aside from part-time nursery schools or kindergar­
tens that would not be adequate for the needs of working mothers. A
number of cities had 5 or more centers under varied auspices, Dallas
and Indianapolis having more than 10. California cities had services
in much larger numbers than elsewhere, owing to the extended school

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

27

programs operated with State funds. In addition to facilities serv­
ing larger numbers of children, most areas had at least several homes
licensed by appropriate authorities to give day care to a small number
of children. Several localities reported 25 or more of these, San Diego
as many as 215. In addition to those licensed, it was thought in most
areas that many more homes wTere giving services to employed mothers.
EVIDENCES OF CHILD-CARE NEEDS

The full extent of the need working mothers have of day care for
their children is not known. However, the growth in employment of
mothers, the evidence in almost all communities visited of the great
insufficiency of facilities to meet current demands, and the pres­
sures for expansion of services give strong indication that an enor­
mous and probably growing need is as yet far from being met.
Employed mothers (with children under 18) numbered 1.5 million
in 1940. It was estimated that the federally aided day-care facilities
served not over 600,000 children through the war period. Thus with
only the number of mothers who worked in 1940, and if each of these
had but one child, these public centers could not have served more
than 40 percent of the children. Some of these were newly established
centers, others were expansions of already existing facilities. Many
of them had to close after the war when Federal funds were with­
drawn.
The number of employed mothers increased markedly during the
war period of industrial expansion, and by 1950 reached 4.6 million.
In that year, the first effort made toward an over-all listing of operat­
ing nursery schools and day-care centers reported about 3,500 units.
By 1951 the number of working mothers had grown to more than 5.2
million.
It is apparent from such information as exists, whether in the war
period or today, that the care given innumerable children of working
mothers is furnished through family or private arrangements.
Almost all of the communities visited by the Women’s Bureau were
expanding industrially and increasing notably in the employment of
women. A similar industrial growth also is occurring in a great num­
ber of other communities throughout the country. In every area
visited, the total number of children known to be enrolled in day-care
centers, nurseries, or nursery schools, or cared for in licensed homes, is
exceedingly small in comparison with the probable number of mothers
employed.
The economic pressures that bring mothers into the labor force may
be the internal needs of the family or the external demands of business
and industry for young women workers and the almost universal
shortages in such occupations as nursing and stenography. In many
236074—53-----5

28

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

families, however, working mothers find themselves subject to con­
flicts that cause them considerable apprehension, either for the welfare
of their children if they continue to work, or for the financial well­
being of the family if they quit. There is ample evidence of the effect
of these apprehensions in industrial absenteeism and turnover. With
business and industry relying on women workers, the problem becomes
a salient one for the entire community. The dilemma is not peculiar
to the communities studied, but presses for solution wherever indus­
trial demands and living costs combine to increase the employment of
women with children.
The correct measure of need for day care for working mothers’
children is very difficult to ascertain, and can be determined only in
the individual community.1 In almost all areas the existing agencies
have waiting lists, sometimes two or three times as great as their
capacity for service. In many places these centers are always over­
crowded. Furthermore, it is usual for the agencies to receive numer­
ous calls for service that they cannot handle and often cannot refer
because sufficient facilities are not available. This does not necessarily
mean that all calls are made by working mothers though the majority
are likely to be. In some cities an increased demand for foster-home
care of children has been noted by welfare agencies, and this usually
is attributed to the fact that mothers who have to work are unable
to find suitable day care. These agencies also noted an increased num­
ber of families in which high living costs impel a mother formerly not
employed to go to work.
In cities with large populations of particular racial or nationality
groups, as for example, Negroes or those of Mexican origin, the serv­
ices are especially insufficient for these groups. The pressure of num­
bers to be served by facilities under the auspices of welfare groups
usually causes restriction of their use to those most greatly in need—
low-income families, in some agencies with preference given to moth­
ers who are the sole support of their children. Thus it sometimes is
found that mothers with slightly higher incomes are excluded from
any group resource for the care of their children if no good commer­
cial centers exist, or if the necessary fees are above the limits of their
ability to pay. Another kind of difficulty appears when the location
of existing services is not convenient to the mother’s necessary trans­
portation to and from her workplace. In some cases, facilities were
closed for lack of use, although overcrowding of services in other parts
of the city indicated they would be used if located where needed.
Moreover, it is often in the most congested sections of the city that
1 Some of the communities visited have developed techniques for evaluating their own
child-care needs, and in one, Wichita, the Women’s Bureau is cooperating with other
Federal agencies in a more detailed study.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

29

the need appears greatest, and yet it may be just there that space to
develop facilities is most difficult to find.
Special agencies in some communities reported additional indica­
tions that child-care facilities are far from adequate to the demand.
For example, school authorities sometimes noted that many children
who formerly went home to lunch were now remaining at school
through the noon period. The YWCA sometimes noted that a large
number of smaller children were accompanying older sisters at centers
for teen-agers. Elsewhere, a city with extensive park recreation serv­
ices noted that in summer increased numbers of children brought lunch
and remained through the day; recreation workers were sure the
mothers of many of these children were employed. Another indica­
tion in several communities that further planning for children is im­
perative was in the increase in juvenile court cases. That these occur
most frequently in congested sections where many low-income families
live was again confirmed by a special spot check that social agencies
had made of such cases in at least one city visited. Of course, these
are families whose economic necessities are the most likely to require
the mother’s employment, but the unsuitable climate for young people
is caused primarily by the overcrowding and other disadvantages
suffered among low-income groups.
Other types of family situation were reported where child-care
services might have relieved acute problems. In at least one city,
numerous cases of aid to dependent children had been closed because
the mothers went to work, although it was not known what was done
with the children nor whether the family subsequently was in a better
position financially. Elsewhere mothers were being disqualified for
unemployment compensation if they refused to work because, due to
some change in family situation, location, or working hours, they no
longer could find suitable child care to enable them to continue work­
ing 5 yet no account was taken of how their families could subsist with­
out their wages.
The plant personnel officers consulted in the various communities
almost always reported many mothers among their women employees.
It is a frequent policy for the plant, before hiring mothers, to inquire
whether child care had been provided, though they may be unable to
suggest any available facilities to the mother. In a few cases the plant
policy formerly was against hiring married women, but they subse­
quently found it necessary to abandon or greatly modify this policy
when they had to seek an adequate woman labor supply.
CONSTRUCTIVE PLANNING IN COMMUNITIES

In any community seeking to deal adequately with child-care needs,
the first necessity is to examine in detail the local situation. In most

30

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

of the cities visited some type of committee had been formed to con­
sider the subject, usually composed of school, social welfare, industry,
and labor members. In some cases this group had been sponsored by
welfare authorities, in others it grew out of the labor-management
committees dealing with labor-force needs.
A number of areas had conducted or were making comprehensive
surveys. Methods used in estimating the number of mothers who
were working or planning to work included question cards through
children in the schools, questions of plant employees through person­
nel departments, or systematic sample canvass of blocks in various
home areas of plant employees. Sometimes community agencies such
as the YWCA, PTA, social agencies, boys’ clubs, and the like, ques­
tioned the groups using their services but this method risked con­
siderable overlapping as well as incompleteness.
Some of the areas that had made surveys had estimated the extent
to which new child-care facilities were needed. A few even had gone
so far as to explore ways and means of establishing these, agencies
that might sponsor them, and locations that might be available for
them.
In some places industrial plants were making plans that would
enable them to develop and utilize skills of women workers avail­
able in the labor force who were beyond the ages usually most de­
sired. It was the general feeling that, in efforts to enlarge local
labor supplies, women with young children should not be urged to
take jobs until all other available sources of labor had been canvassed.
This was stated as a definite womanpower policy during the second
World War.
In many communities there is a considerable variation in active
opinion regarding the method of meeting the need of working mothers
for child care. Some groups strongly urge public support for addi­
tional day-care facilities and perhaps advocate State aid, or Federal
assistance. At the same time other groups have the belief that it is
better for mothers to make their own private arrangements, with
the help of family members or otherwise. The latter view sometimes
arises from strong traditional customs in the community and may go
so far as to question whether in general mothers should enter employ­
ment. Costs are another consideration that enters into opinion as to
the provision of community facilities for child care.
Where mothers are employed, special care is needed to provide
healthful conditions of work and hours of work on a shift fitted
so far as possible to their family needs. The community also can
plan to provide certain services to aid working mothers with their
household duties, such as outside services for laundry and food prepa­
ration, and extension of shopping hours.

31

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

One of the most marked needs in almost all areas visited is for
some central information service that could at least refer inquiring
mothers to any available possibilities for child care. This becomes
especially pressing at employment services, as well as plant personnel
departments, in fact wherever mothers apply for jobs. Such a serv­
ice could be sponsored by any of the competent public or voluntary
community agencies, and should have an effective liaison with the
employment services and be known to all plants taking on workers.
Such a central agency could be more fully developed into a valuable
advisory service for mothers on many of the problems they face in
coordinating the demands of their jobs with their household-manage­
ment responsibilities.
Table 6.—Estimated Nonagricultural Employment
Areas, 1951 and 1952

op

Women

in

Selected

Women in nonagricultural employment
All nonagricul­
tural industries

Manufacturing

Percent distribution of all women

Locality and dates
Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

All
nonagricul­
tural

Manu­
factur­ Trade Service All
other
ing

NEW ENGLAND
Connecticut
Hartford:
May 1951
September 1951____
March 1952. ..............
September 1952 1____
New Haven:
May 1951
September 1951
March 1952____ _
September 1952
Bridgeport:
May 1951
September 1951
May 1952______ ____
September 1952
Water bury:
May 1951_______
September 1951 _ ...
March 1952___ ...
September 1952___
Stamford-Norwalk:
May 1951______
_
September 1951.__ ...
March 1952._
September 1952____
New Britain:
May 1951
September 1951____
March 1952...
September 1952—.........

77,130
78, 710
72, 750

68,100

41
41
37
35

20,050
21, 450
21, 650
19,800

27
27
26
27

100
100
100
100

26
27
30
29

45, 860
44,340
40, 620
40, 900

40
38
36
35

15, 670
15, 450
15,680
15,600

35
34
35
33

100
100
100
100

40,060
38, 960
37,800
38,800

35
34
32
32

20, 320
20, 950
20, 710
21,800

31
32
30
30

23, 230
23,700
24, 010
22, 000

35
35
35
35

14, 730
14, 650
15,020
13,900

24, 410
24,830
25,020
26,300

35
35
35
35

15,000
14, 560
13, 370
12, 620

35
35
32
32

See end of table for footnotes.

22
22

19

12

13

38

20

19

32

34
35
39
38

20
22

22

24

16
17

27

18

100
100
100
100

51
54
55
56

20

11

33
33
34
35

100
100
100
100

63
62
63
63

13
13
15

15
14
13

10
10

11,480
11, 980
11,960
12, 730

35
35
34
35

100
100
100
100

47
48
48
48

15
15
16
16

16

22

22
22
22

15
14
14

9,260
8,840
8, 610
8,140

31
30
30
30

100
100
100
100

62
61
64
65

17
17
14

7
13
14
15

14
9

16
18
17

17
18
18

13

12

8

17

12

9

9

8
8

32

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Table 6.—Estimated N on agricultural Employment of Women
Areas, 1951 and 1952—Continued

in

Selected

Women in nonagricultural employment
All nonagricul­
tural industries

Percent distribution of all women

Manufacturing

Locality and dates
Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

All
nonagricul­
tural

Manu­
factur­ Trade Service
ing

All
other

MIDWESTERN STATES
Indiana
Indianapolis:
May 1951
September 1951____
March 1952___
September 1952
South Bend:2
May 1951
September 1951____ March 1952......... ........

26
24
24
27
«
17
17
18

100
100
100
100

30
29
30
32

36
37
34
36

15
16
16
15

19
18

100
100
100

32
32
32

42
41
41

17
18
18

9
9
9

9, 525
8,875
8, 275
8, 575

24
23

100
100
100
100

50
47
45
46

26
26
27
27

12

12

14
14
14

13
14
13

26
28
28
31

6,950
7,375
7,325
8,600

16
17
17

100
100
100
100

28
29
28
32

30
29
29
29

20
20
20
22

24
17

27, 650
31, 730
35,300
38,220

29
30
31
33

5,040
8, 810
11, 790
13,450

12

18

18
28
33
35

33
30
25
26

23

21
21

21

24

100
100
100
100

48, 050
48, 200
50,000

28
28
29

15, 750
15, 975
16,800

17
16
17

100
100
100

33
33
34

4 29
4 29
4 29

34
34
34

4
4
3

59, 750
59. 400
58, 850

30
30
30

16, 700
15, 950
15, 400

19
18
18

100
100
100

28
27
26

32
32
33

11
11
11

29
30
30

117,900
124,400
123, 900
125,300

32
34
35
33

45,000
45, 200
43, GOO
45,090

24
23
24
23

100
100
100
100

38
36
35
36

31
29
28
28

14
13
14
19

23
17

100
100
100
100

14
14

35
35
30
36

20

19
23

20

32
32
35
29

100
100
100

59
«9

24
24
24

36
36
35

31
31
31

96, 700
93, 830
90, 571
93, 200

36
34
34
33

29, 330
26, 920
27, 386
29, 600

30, 025
29, 985
29,955

29
30
30

9, 625
9, 520
9,445

19,150
18, 775
18,325
18,475

30
29
29
30

25,250
25,825
26,675
27,000

20

17

Illinois and Iowa
Rockford, 111.:
March 1951
September 1951--. ..
March 1952
September 1952
Davenport, Iowa, Rock
Island, Moline, 111.:
May 1951
September 1951
March 1952................ .
September 1952--------

22

23

21

22
22

Kansas
Wichita:
March 1951 .
September 1951
March 1952
September 1952
Ohio
Akron:2
September 1951
March 1952
September 1952
Dayton:2
September 1951
March 1952
September 1952

22

21

28
19
18

Wisconsin
Milwaukee:
May 1951
September 1951.........
March 1952_____ _
September 1952...........

17

22

MOUNTAIN STATES
Colorado
Denver:
May 1951
September 1951. ------May 1952. _________
September 1952-------Pueblo:3
September 1951-------March 1952
September 1952...........

66, 750

71, 450
71,300
79, 532
9,027
9,170
9,437

See end of table for footnotes.

32
33
32
34
26
26
26

9,300
9,800
8, 600
11, 795
786
832
900

23

22
20

26
8
8

9

12

15

»10

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52
Table 6.—Estimated Nonagricultubal Employment of Women
Areas, 1951 and 1952—Continued

in

33
Selected

Women in nonagricultural employment
All non igricultural in<lustries

Manufacturing

Percent distribution of ail women

Locality and dates
Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

Num­
ber

Per­
cent of
all em­
ployed

All
nonagrieultural

Manu­
factur­ Trade Service
ing

All
other

SOUTHWESTERN STATES
Texas
Dallas:
May 1951_____
September 1951.
March 1952___
September 1952.

78,983
81,394
84,358
86, 578

35
35
35
35

16, 553
17,811
18,624
19,385

27
27
28
27

100
100
100
100

21
22
22
22

32
31
32
32

22
22
22
21

25
25
24
25

WEST COAST STATES
California
Los Angeles:
May 1951______ _
September 1951 ___
March 1952. ...
September 1952____
San Eraneisco-Oakland:
May 1951________
September 1951_____
March 1952_____
September 1952...........
San Diego:
May 1951
September 1951
March 1952...
September 1952.........

494,400
514, 200
532, 800
550, 500

32
32
32
32

115, 500
124, 500
146,300
154,300

24
25
26
27

100
100
100
100

23
24
27
28

28
28
26
26

26

20

293,000
285,000
283,400
304,800

35
33
33
34

37, 400
44, 000
40, 000
53,000

19

20
20

24

100
100
100
100

13
15
14
17

29
30
31
30

28
26

27

48,150
53,500
56,900
59,100

32
34
34
33

9, 450
11,400
14, 850
14, 950

23
26
28
27

100
100
100
100

20
21

26
25

33
30
27
28

27

20

91,370
96,170
94,350
99,410

35
36
36
36

11,900
13, 980
13, 620
14,490

17
19
19
19

100
100
100
100

13
15
14
15

37
35
36
36

Washington
Seattle:
March 1951_____
September 1951
March 1952............
September 1952____

28
29
28

21

madeforthe^prS^monThs^6 attributed partlyto variation in sampling; hence comparisons in the text are
2 September 1952 figures are not shown, as they reflect still persisting efiects of the steel strike.
3 Reports not available for spring of 1951.
4 In all the Akron reports “service” includes "finance, insurance, and real estate,” a group shown sen-

arately m all the other areas.
*
'10 Pueblo, the low percentage of women in manufacturing is probably due to the fact reported by the
Women s Bureau field representative who visited the area, that “ordnance” is not included in manufac­
turing (as it is in other areas), but is in “all other.”
Source: United States Employment Service Reports, including wage and salary workers onlv. fSelfS tv 1 domestics, and unpaid family workers are excluded.) Reports were not available for all periods
from this agency for Gary, Colorado Springs, Idaho Falls, or Burlington, Iowa. Spring 1951 reports are
used for March where available, otherwise for May.
y

NEW ENGLAND STATES
Connecticut
Connecticut communities are keenly aware of the needs of working
mothers for the care of their children. Connecticut is well up among
the States in number of day-care centers, nearly 90 being reported for
1950 in the 1951 Merrill-Palmer Directory. The Women’s Bureau

34

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

visited Connecticut cities at some time between March 1951 and the
end of the year. Most of these visits were made earlier than to other
areas, and hence the information on child care is less current than
elsewhere, though the data in table 6 carry the employment status to
the fall of 1952.
Included are six cities important in metal and electrical manufac­
turing and, hence, likely to have defense contracts. Four of these
had active child-care committees. In all of them councils of social
agencies were taking the lead in gathering facts or obtaining surveys
of the current evidences as to extent of employment of mothers and
demands for day care for their children. In at least three cities,
school authorities were making a complete check as to number of chil­
dren whose mothers were employed. There appeared to be a close
connection between community activities related to day care and the
proportion of women in the labor force. Many of the employers in­
terviewed reported large proportions of their women workers were
married, and some substantiated this fully with figures.
In several of these cities women constituted a larger proportion
of the nonagricultural labor force than in most other localities visited.
In several of them, much larger proportions of the nonagricultural
women ^workers were in manufacturing than in cities visited in any
other part of the country. (See table 6.) In some of them there
were declines in women’s employment from the spring to the fall of
1951. There was some planning for industrial expansion, but there
was little evidence of an emergency situation. It was usual for job
applications at employment offices, especially among women, to out­
run the available jobs. Shortages existed for clerical workers and
men with high skills in manufacturing, but the supply of unskilled
and semiskilled workers was far above the demand. In all but one
of these Connecticut cities women’s employment declined from the fall
of 1951 to the fall of 1952, though in some the number in manufac­
turing increased.
Most of the existing nonprofit day-care centers had waiting lists,
though a few were not filled to capacity. This may have been for a
variety of reasons, such as hours or locations unsatisfactory for work­
ing mothers. In some of these localities wffiere large proportions of
the working population were of foreign origin, there was a tendency
not to use public day-care facilities but rather to leave children with
relatives or neighbors. The schools often were overcrowded, and there
were several expressions of the opinion that more recreational plans
were needed, in particular for children of the ages of 6 to 10. The
extent of commercial day-care facilities was not known, as these are not
licensed by the State though they must secure health certification.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

35

HARTFORD

The employment of women in Hartford had increased by a third
from 1940 to 1950, according to census figures. (See table 5.) The
proportion of women workers to all workers had increased somewhat,
to 34 percent in 1950. When first visited by the Women’s Bureau in
1951, Employment Service reports for the area indicated that short­
ages of women existed in clerical occupations, though there continued
to be more women applicants for industrial jobs than could be placed.
Shortages of manufacturing workers at the higher-skill levels, largely
in machinery industries, are likely to be almost entirely of men. The
summer labor supply of women was well above the demand. In the
fall of 1951 the supply of women and the number of unemployment
claims were increasing, and in December there still were plenty of
women available “at the entry level.” Many women worked the sec­
ond-shift hours 3:30 p. m. to midnight.
Wien Hartford was revisited by the Women’s Bureau in the fall
of 1952, the general situation as to women’s employment was found
to be much the same as in 1951. The area continues to be classified as
one of the few acute labor-shortage areas in the country, but this is
largely because of shortages in certain skills in heavy industries.
There remain sufficient numbers of women in the labor market to meet
any needs short of an extreme emergency.
Employment Service figures showed a decline from 1951 to 1952' in
the employment of women in nonagricultural occupations (except
household work). However, the 68,000 women workers in 1952 were
a larger proportion of the nonagricultural labor force (36 percent)
than in almost any city visited outside Connecticut. (See table 6.)
At least a part of the explanation for this is that the city is the State
capital and perhaps the largest insurance office center in the world,
and thus requires especially great numbers of workers in the clerical
and allied occupations. In manufacturing, the area is a recognized
center for precision products, particularly in the metal trades, and in­
cludes large plants making typewriters (labor force about 35 percent
women), precision instruments, machine tools, aircraft engines (labor
force about 20 percent women), propellers, and firearms. Several new
plants have been located in the area since World War II, and in the
early summer of 1951 Employment Service reports indicated that
many large plants were approaching their World War II peak and had
a much larger potential ahead.
There were two public day-care centers which provided for working
mothers’ children. One, under the Community Chest, had in the
spring of 1951 an enrollment of 102, largely Negro children, and was
open from 7 a. m. to 4:45 p. m. It was full to capacity, and new
236074—53------ 6

36

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

applicants in July must wait until December for places. The other
center was under the board of education and had in the spring an
enrollment of 45, chiefly white children, with hours 8 to 5. It was not
full to capacity in the spring, but had a waiting list by summer. The
other center referred children to it, but its later opening hour may not
have been satisfactory or its location may not have been suited to
needs of the mothers requesting service. Where there is only one
parent in the home, and that parent must work, children are admitted
to this center on application. If there is more than one wage earner,
or if the mother is ill, recommendation for admission is necessary from
the department of public welfare. Fees for both these centers were
$6 to $9 a week, depending on ability to pay. There were 22 commer­
cial centers having 474 children in the spring of 1951, also full to
capacity. Their fees ran from $2.50 to $21.50 a week, depending on
the length of time the child spent in the center and other factors.
Although several new plants have been located in the area since
World War II, the Employment Service reports as to the continuing
surplus in the woman labor supply in the Hartford area might seem
to indicate little need for increased day-care facilities. However,
such a conclusion would lose sight of the insufficiency of the existing
facilities to meet the demand for their use, and of the evidences of
growth in this demand. The Employment Service reported in July
increases not only in requests for part-time jobs, but also in requests for
help at home to care for children. On the other hand a spot check
this agency made was interpreted as revealing little need for ex­
pansion of day-care facilities. The large aircraft-engine plant re­
ported, from exit interviews with women leaving its service over the
first 6 months of 1951, that 15 women had left because they could not
get child care, and 28 others because of home responsibilities. One of
the large insurance companies reported an increase in married women
workers as living costs advanced. This company takes women with
children under 6 years of age only if evidence can be shown that
satisfactory care has been provided for these children.
The community welfare council organized a day-care committee as
early as the fall of 1950, with representatives from welfare, education,
labor, industry, the Employment Service, the juvenile court, and
church groups. A school survey in the fall of 1951 included 11,800
children in the kindergarten through the sixth grade in 18 schools,
and its findings were most revealing. They showed that 24 percent of
these children had mothers who were employed all day, in 5 schools
30 percent or more. The schools of the area are so overcrowded that
they are unable to provide any further extensions of service.
The committee continued very active in securing information and
exchange of data between agencies in the community. In 1952 it

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

37

studied applications for day care to discover sections of the city from
which they chiefly come. Its reports also showed 41 foster family
day-care homes caring for 40 children in the fall of 1952, but with
capacity to serve 72.
NEW HAVEN

There was little change in the employment of women in New Haven
in the decade 1940-50. Likewise, the proportion women constituted
of all workers, 34 percent in 1950, showed little change from 1940.
(See table 5.) Employment Service reports showed about 41,000
women workers in New Haven in 1952 in nonagricultural occupations
(except household work). Although this was a decline from 1951,
women were 35 percent of the nonagricultural labor force, a propor­
tion larger than in most areas visited outside Connecticut. (See
table 6.)
The population of the area includes many of Italian origin. In
maufacturing, this area is characterized by relatively small plants—
of its 500 firms, only 7 employ more than 1,000 workers. Some of the
larger plants produce hardware, electrical appliances, arms, rubber
goods, and corsets. In five of these, the labor force in the summer
of 1951 included about 35 percent women. Employment managers
testified to the large proportion of married women among their
employees—in some cases as high as 60 percent of the women. Each
asks the employment applicant about care of children under 6 years
of age.
The area had four centers of day care for children of working
mothers. Two of these were operated by Catholic schools, taking pri­
marily Italian children. Their enrollment in the fall of 1951 was 128,
with a waiting list almost a third as great. The other two had an en­
dowment of long standing, and were aided by the Community Chest.
The larger of these was 80 years old, and the second was opened re­
cently by it in a Negro housing project. Together they cared for 115
children (45 in the Negro development) and had a waiting list of
nearly half as many. Recently 30 families had formed a cooperative
and were appealing for foundation funds to open a center for 250
children, largely of the ages 6 to 10, with a fee of $1.50 a week per child.
It was reported that there was a mushrooming of commercial centers,
with new ones reported weekly.
Plans for the new center, growth of private agencies, waiting lists
at the public agencies, and in some plants the large proportions of the
women workers who were married indicate need for further day-care
facilities. The general opinion of interviewers at the Employment
Service was that job applicants are in need of work to meet family
living costs. The director of the endowed nurseries was eager to see

38

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

new centers opened in sections of the city where delinquency was high.
A school social worker reported that practically all the children with
behavior problems come from homes where the mother works
(although this is only one element in their unsatisfactory family
situations).
The community was alive to the importance of developing further
information. School authorities planned to survey the extent to
which school children’s mothers are at work, and a similar question
was to be asked registrants of a large boys’ club. The family service
agency wTas planning to get a similar report of some 400 families
handled by case workers, and the council of social agencies was seek­
ing to prepare an accurate directory of the many homes newly taking
children on a commercial basis.
The importance of greater facilities for child care seemed evident
in spite of the fact that in the late summer and early fall of 1951 there
was considerable questioning as to how fully employment opportun­
ities in the area would develop. Business executives felt they had few
defense contracts and that the high costs tended to cut civilian spend­
ing so that they feared layoffs. Thirteen industries with defense con­
tracts showed little employment increase. The applications of women
for jobs far outran the available openings in the late summer of 1951.
The only occupation group in short supply was that of skilled clerical
workers. There were more than 22 women job seekers for every un­
skilled job open. In mid-September, 60 percent of the unemployment
insurance claims were women’s, and the number was greater than a
year earlier.
BRIDGEPORT

Bridgeport is a large center for the manufacture of metal products,
small arms, and electrical supplies, with a new aircraft-parts plant.
There was little change from 1940 to 1950, either in the number of
women employed or the proportion they constitute of the labor force,
according to census figures. (See table 5.) The population is 40percent foreign speaking, and one large plant reported 20 languages
spoken among its workers. Employment Service estimates showed
about 39,000 women in nonagricultural employment (except house­
hold work) in Bridgeport, with little change from the fall of 1951
to the fall of 1952. (See table 6.) An unusually large proportion
of these women workers (56 percent) are in manufacturing industries,
compared to all cities visited in other sections of the country.
There were four child-care centers operated under the Community
Chest. At the time reported, in September 1951, none was running to
capacity; one had a small wraiting list, the others none. A total of
about 90 children was reported in three centers. One was located in a

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

39

school building, though it was directed by the city welfare department,
and formerly had had Lanham Act funds. It was probable that with
such a large foreign population, children were cared for to a large
extent by relatives or neighbors. There were no records of private
homes giving care to a small number of children on a commercial
basis. School officers stated that space could be made available in
schools, either for extended school services or day-care centers under
other auspices.
There was evidence of some industrial growth, with some new con­
tracts in prospect and one new plant planning a large labor-force
increase during a year’s period. On the other hand, one of the larg­
est plants had removed a considerable section of its production to
another city. The area had the largest number of applicants for
unemployment compensation in the State. Over 60 percent of these
applicants were women, though a year previously the applications
of men and women were equally divided. Women also are over 60
percent of the Employment Service applicants for jobs, with about
eight women applicants for every available job.
School authorities thought it probable that there was a need for
extended school services, with especial attention to the recreational
requirements of school-age children. A check was planned in cer­
tain schools in sections of the city having large working populations,
to obtain a count of number of mothers employed through the day;
and also a check through the registration cards issued by the director
of the boys’ club.
WATERBURY

The number of women workers in Waterbury had increased by a
tenth from 1940 to 1950, according to census reports. (See table 5.)
These women were about a third of all workers, a proportion slightly
higher than the 31 percent for all urban areas in the country. Em­
ployment Service estimates for the fall of 1952 showed 22,000 women
in nonagricultural occupations (except household employment) in
Waterbury, with some decline from the fall of 1951. (See table 6.)
Principal products of the city’s manufacturing are copper and brass
goods, clocks, watches, and time devices. The proportion of women
nonagricultural workers who are in manufacturing (63 percent) is
larger than in any other city visited, except one other in Connecticut.
Three of the largest manufacturing plants had 2,200 women, who
were 20 percent of their workers. Women from Waterbury also
commute to two large plants producing rubber goods and time devices
at nearby Naugatuck. Almost 2,700 women were reported employed
in one of these in the fall of 1951. At least two-thirds of the women
in the labor force in each of these plants were married. Many of

40

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

these married women worked on the second shift. Some brought
their children to the plants and turned them over to the fathers who
were just leaving the first shift.
The city has one public day nursery caring for 45 to 47 children.
It had a waiting list of 75 in the summer, which later decreased as
there was some employment slump at the end of 1951. It has a scale
of fees based on ability to pay, with a maximum of $6 a week. There
are four private day-care centers having 175 children, and operating
from 6:30 or 7:30 a. m. to 5 p. m. The public schools have no nursery
or after-school programs, but a State school official advised planning
services for the 6- to 12-year children.
The child-care committee of World War II was reactivated early
in 1951, and includes representatives of education, social work,
industry, and labor. The committee planned to survey all schools,
ascertaining the number whose mothers were employed, their work­
ing hours, and number and ages of children at home. Even though
there was some slump at the end of 1951, several plants had plans for
growth. Further, the girls’ club in the city had increased markedly
in the fall of 1951, had 800 members aged 8 to 10, and a waiting list
of 400.
NEW BRITAIN

The number of women workers in New Britain had increased by
more than a fourth from 1940 to 1950, according to census reports.
(See table 5.) In the same time, their proportion among all workers
had increased from 29 to 34 percent. Estimates of the Employment
Service for 1952 showed nearly 13,000 women nonagricultural work­
ers (exclusive of household employees). Both in total nonagricul­
tural employment and among manufacturing workers, the number
of women had declined from the preceding year. (See table 6.) A
larger proportion of the women nonagricultural workers than in any
other city visited were in manufacturing occupations (65 percent).
Electrical supplies, tools, hardware, refrigerators, and washing
machines are among products made in New Britain. Several firms
reported that a large proportion of their women workers were mar­
ried—where figures were available, about two-thirds.
At the time of the Women’s Bureau report in July 1951, one public
child-care center was operating with 47 children and no vacancies,
supported by the Community Chest, with Junior League aid. I he fee
was $5.50 to $12 a week and the hours, 7: 30 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m. A
privately endowed center of 20 years’ standing, having had active and
inactive periods in its history, had been closed since 1948 when it had
been operating to capacity with Lanham Act aid and had had a 'wait­
ing list. Half the children then served were from broken homes, and

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

41

some had to be put in foster homes. The general hospital had opened
a new child-care center for its employees early in July 1951, to meet
the shortage of nurses and reduce terminations due to home respon­
sibilities for children. It had a capacity of 40, started with 12,
operated from 8 a. m. to 5 p. m. and charged $5 for 3 days, $7 for 5y2
days. There was one commercial center in New Britain in the sum­
mer of 1951 with 42 children, not its full capacity. It operated only
half the day and had a fee of $3 a week.
I he council of social agencies had a child-care committee, which
made a survey that revealed no increase in requests. There is a large
Polish population, whose mothers when employed tend to leave chilclren with relatives or neighbors. However, large proportions of job
applicants at the Employment Service wanted part-time work, and
industrialists felt that more women workers would be needed. Some
thought increased absenteeism might be due to increase in employment
of mothers, though there were no figures to support this. Social
workers almost universally point out that low-income families often
are living m crowded and unsanitary accommodations and are subject
to many unfavorable influences; also the mother in such families
requently works. Among the 400 or 500 delinquency cases in the
juvenile court of the county, the proportion of children with both
parents at work fluctuated from time to time—it had increased from
33 percent in 1943 to 35 percent in 1948, and from 32 percent in 1949
to 40 percent in 1950. The director of the boys’ club planned to
include m his registration card for the fall a question on whether the
mother was working-.
o

STAMFORD

The number of women workers in Stamford in 1950 had increased
by more than half above 1940, according to census reports. Women
were 32 percent of all workers, a proportion much the same as in 1940,
and as that of women in urban areas throughout the country in 1950.'
(See table 5.) In the Stamford-Norwalk area Employment Service
estimates for the fall of 1952 showed 26,000 women workers in nonagricultural employment (except in households), an increase from
1951. (See table 6.) About half these women were in manufactur­
ing, a larger proportion than in most areas visited. Characteristic
manufacturing industries make metal products, and most of the plants
are relatively small. In the entire area only four firms have over
1,000 workers.
There is one nonprofit day-nursery supported by the Community
Chest with assistance from the Junior League. When visited by the
Women’s Bureau in the fall of 1951 it had enrolled 78 children and
could have handled more but had no waiting list. Fees were from
$5.50 to $12 a week, and hours 7:30 a. m. to 5:30 p. m.

42

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

It was thought a considerable proportion of the women workers
were married, though exact figures were not available. Several per­
sonnel directors who had been investigating employment opportunities
thought that some small industries would come into the area, but one
of the larger firms expected to make some layoffs before the end of
1951. The applications of women for jobs exceeded the demand for
workers during the summer by almost 4 to 1. The only shortages
were in clerical occupations and some skilled factory jobs for men.
The community council had organized a child-care committee in the
spring of 1951. The committee was making a spot check in two areas
to obtain some data on child-care needs—one a low-cost housing, and
one a moderate-income area. Results of one of these had been tabu­
lated at the time of the Women’s Bureau visit. In half the homes the
committee interviewed the mother was working, and in others the
mothers desired to take jobs. School authorities were cooperating
with the committee. The chairman was of the opinion that the schoolage children were the most neglected group.
MIDWESTERN STATES
Indiana
The three areas reported in this State were of a highly developed
industrial character, but were not tight labor-market areas in mid1951 at the time visited by the Women’s Bureau, and the employment
of women declined from 1951 to 1952. They had large population
groups who were foreign-born or first-generation citizens, and they had
drawn and still could draw a supply of Negro labor from Southern
States. The proportions of the employees who were women were
smaller in two of these areas (Gary and South Bend) than in the
United States as a whole. Consequently, women not in the labor force
constituted a large labor reserve. Furthermore, in these cities heavy
industries such as steel and automobiles predominate, requiring chiefly
a male labor force and giving small opportunity for women workers.
In spite of this general situation, there was a considerable demand
for child care apparent, as elsewhere most largely among those in
lower income levels. The opinion was held by some that more facili­
ties were needed for mothers who had to work to aid in family support.
However, there also was an element of opinion in these communities
that opposed spending public money for child-care centers, and felt
that further facilities of this type might encourage more women to
enter a labor force already overcrowded with surplus labor. The State
department of public welfare licenses child-care centers, formerly
done on a county basis; but the State funds had been cut and it had
not been possible to check on centers in the year visited.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

43

INDIANAPOLIS

One of the areas visited in Indiana was Indianapolis, in which
77,700 women were employed in 1950. (See table 5.) This was an
increase of more than a third above 1940. The proportion women
were of all workers had risen from 28 percent in 1940 to 32 percent
in 1950; it was thus in 1950 very similar to the 31 percent in urban
areas throughout the United States. Current estimates of women in
nonagricultural employment showed a slight decline from the fall of
1951 to the fall of 1952 (see table 6), though the number of women in
manufacturing, and consequently the proportion women constituted
of all manufacturing workers, had increased.
Electrical manufacturing and textiles were large employers of
women in this city, but the number in these industries had declined
slightly over a year’s time. However, one important electrical plant
was running an overtime shift of 6 hours on Saturdays. Others were
running two shifts. One of these refused to employ women unless
they could work on any shift as needed, but tried to put husband and
wife on the same shift if desired. Considerable numbers of women
also were at work in automobile manufacture.
Community funds were operating three child-care centers, and eight
private (commercial) day nurseries had been licensed. Apparently a
smaller number of children were cared for in each of about 40 homes,
since it was reported that a total of 51 facilities had been licensed.
Varied opinion as to the need for added child-care facilities re­
flected conflicting opinions in regard to the seriousness of labormarket problems in the city. Industry and the chamber of commerce,
while foreseeing a moderate growth in employment, also recognized
continuing access to a labor supply from depressed areas of Tennes­
see, Kentucky, and West Virginia, making it unnecessary to draw
heavily on the available surplus of women. On the other hand, there
seemed some evidence that workers from trade and service occupa­
tions were entering factories, and social workers believed that more
women than generally supposed were newly entering retail trade,
laundries, and other services. Furthermore, representatives of some
businesses and unions considered lack of child-care facilities a deter­
rent to employment of more women and a serious cause of turnover
and absenteeism. One firm that ran its own day nursery during
World War II was considering the necessity of doing so again. The
council of social agencies was organizing a committee of industry,
school, and social agency personnel, and planned to survey available
resources and needs.
SOUTH BEND

The 1950 census reported 23,900 women workers in South Bend,
an increase of more than a third above 1940. Women constituted
236074—53—7

44

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

a smaller proportion of the labor force in this area (27 percent)
than in United States urban areas as a whole (31 percent in 1950).
(See table 5.) In manufacturing industries, the proportion of women
was smaller in South Bend than in most of the other areas visited.
(See table 6.) A major aviation plant reported its total labor
force as only 13 percent women, its factory operations only 10 percent.
There is considerable diversity of industry in this city, the major
manufacturing groups being automotive and aviation, with rubber
and apparel also of importance. There was no serious labor shortage,
though some skills were in short supply. There was a surplus of
workers to draw on as well as many married women who might
be called on, and in addition there was a steady in-migration of
families from surplus-labor States to the South. No new industries
were currently coming into the area, and there was little sign of
unusual industrial expansion. The community includes many fami­
lies of Polish and Hungarian origin.
There are no public day-care centers in this city, and the one private
(commercial) day nursery was reported “full to bursting.” There
are a number of private homes that can serve a total of about 40
children. Mothers frequently get neighbors to care for children,
but there have been cases where there was no care, usually between
shifts when one parent is en route home, the other to the plant. The
schools have had no extended services, even during World War II,
and were not planning for them. No industrial plant organized a
day-care center during the war, so far as known. An effort was
made to establish a public center during the war, but it was not fully
used. The council of community services has a committee on foster
care and day care, but it has not been active.
There seems to be a widespread feeling in the community for letting
families and industry handle their own problems. Employers see
little need for public child-care facilities. At least one of the largest
plants has a general policy that their women employees will be only
the single and widowed, as they believe them to be more stable workers
than married women. If there were children, an effort was made to
find out about their care before hiring. There is labor opinion that
industry will need more women, including many who are married,
and that child-care centers should be organized. The surplus of un­
skilled and semiskilled labor, with the type of industry prevailing
and the lack of plans for new industry, gives little evidence that the
demand for women workers will increase to any great extent. This is
the basis for a strong opinion in the community that to provide child­
care arrangements might create more problems than it would solve;
there are also objections to expenditure of public funds except in hard­
ship cases. Social agencies see need to reserve existing child-care

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

45

facilities to be used by deserted wives and lower income groups, and in
family emergencies.
On the other hand, with recent advancing costs, the social case-work
load has increased considerably in families that might solve their
problems if the mother could find care for her children so she could
take a job. In three recent cases women have been disqualified for
unemployment compensation when they turned down employment
because, due to some change in their family situation or work hours,
they no longer were able to get child care. Many wards of the court,
under jurisdiction of the welfare department, come from broken
homes where the mother must work. The social welfare, YWCA, and
other agencies get numerous inquiries every week about availability of
day-care facilities. The family welfare service advises some mothers
who inquire about child care to apply for license to care for children
instead of taking jobs away from home. They believe a rise in fees
would encourage this, though there would be the problem as to how
much a working mother could afford.
GARY

The type of industry prevailing in Gary offers women few factory
employment opportunities, except for some hosiery manufacture. As
the home of the largest integrated steel plant in the world and of re­
lated heavy industry, Gary’s economic life is dominated by indus­
tries that employ few women. The population is about equally
divided among in-migrant native white families, Negro families
from southern surplus-labor States, and the families of men who came
from Central or Southern Europe from 1910 to World War I to work
in the steel mills.
The 1950 census reported 13,800 working women living in Gary,
an increase of about two-thirds from the 1940 number. These con­
stituted only 24 percent of the labor force, a proportion smaller than
in any other city or area visited. (See table 5.)
Possible employment outlets for Gary women, other than Chicago,
would be in other cities in the Calumet area. These are Hammond,
a high-income residential city; East Chicago, with expanding indus­
try but inadequate housing space; Whiting; and La Porte with Kings­
bury Ordnance. However, each of these cities had its own pool of
unemployed women competing for jobs when the Women’s Bureau
visited Gary late in 1951.
There are no public facilities for day care of children in Gary.
There were three or four set up with Lanham Act funds during World
War II, but later discontinued. There is one excellent center in Ham­
mond and also in East Chicago. One of the Gary settlement houses

46

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

includes in its program for all ages and groups in the community a
morning nursery school and an afternoon play period running to
3 p. m., and in these it can accommodate 20 preschool children. There
are two commercial day nurseries in Gary, with a maximum capacity
of 40 children; both are fairly expensive. Gary has five day-care
homes, licensed to serve a small number of children, and there are
six others in the Calumet area. These have a capacity averaging three
children each and charge an average of $2 a day for care of a child,
$3 if they have a planned program for the children. There are no
extended school services, and there seem to be no cooperative nurseries.
The Gary community welfare council analyzed the problem of
day-care centers in 1950 and decided the city needed about four.
However, neither funds nor space were available to set them up. As
in other communities, cleavage of opinion existed between those who
for traditional or other reasons felt it unwise to do anything that
might encourage mothers to work and those who recognized the inten­
sive economic pressures that impelled many mothers to work.
Two or three years previously there were almost twice as many
licensed day-care homes as at the end of 1951. It was thought that
many of those who formerly conducted them had later to take outside
jobs themselves, and possibly others were not qualified to obtain li­
censes. Social agencies were concerned that many of the children
formerly in these homes might now he cared for by informal arrange­
ment not advantageous to the children. Also, complaints were re­
ported as to activities of both school-age and younger children in
some of the more crowded sections of the city.
The children’s division of the Lake County welfare department was
currently having the greatest number of cases in its history. These
resulted from varied economic and social problems including over­
crowding, substandard housing, and low family income that impelled
the mother to work. Although a surplus of woman labor was avail­
able at the time, there was some indication of growth in industries
that would afford women increased opportunities for employment,
and this may intensify the child-care needs in the city and the area.
FORT WAYNE

In Fort Wayne, though not visited by the Women’s Bureau in this
period, the Child Welfare League of America, in a survey of eight
cities, reported that in a 5-month period early in 1950 applications
had increased 30 percent for day-care services for children of mothers
who had to work.
Illinois and Iowa
In the fall of 1951 the Women’s Bureau made visits to a number
of important manufacturing centers in Illinois and Iowa where de­

PROGRAMS IN' SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

47

fense activities were expanding the woman labor force, or appeared
likely to expand it. The largest cities in these States were excluded
but visits were made to Rockford, 111., Burlington, Iowa, and the “Quad
Cities” of Davenport, Iowa, and Moline, East Moline, and Rock Island,
111.
Both Iowa and Illinois have State laws providing for licensing of
child-care institutions by the State welfare department. In Iowa
child-care agencies of all types are licensed if they care for more than
2 children. Day-care centers with over 25 children enrolled are super­
vised by a child-welfare consultant who is the agent of the State for
a district composed of several counties. Smaller centers are super­
vised by the county, though licensed by the State.
A recent Illinois law requires a State license for any day-care home
taking more than four children and for any foster home taking one
or more. The following summary indicates the chief specifications
the State makes for such homes, which may be considered fairly
typical of recommended standards.
Space: For each child 35 square feet, with one-eighth floor space windows,
75 square feet of outdoor play space, quarters for isolation of those taken
111.

Program and care: Constructive daytime program, one adult for 5 or 6 chil­
dren, physical examination for child, hot lunch, other health and sanitation
standards.
Sleeping space: For each child small cot with 2 feet between cots; only chil­
dren of same parents and same sex in one bed.

The Merrill-Palmer Directory reported 227 nursery schools and
child-care centers in Illinois in 1950, of which 151 were private com­
mercial agencies, 40 were maintained by the communities, and 17 by
churches, 8 were cooperative, and a few were child-research centers
or agencies of other character. (See table 4.) In Iowa, the directory
reported 33 nursery schools and child-care centers, 14 of them com­
munity agencies and 13 private commercial undertakings.
ROCKFORD, ILL.

Rockford is a community that for many years has had a high degree
of economic stability. This is based chiefly on two characteristics—a
national reputation for skilled production of machine tools and pat­
terns, so complicated and precise as to be almost individually devel­
oped, and an underlying diversity of industry with many small shops
employing not over 100 persons. With a labor market consistently
rather tight, especially for men with highly developed metalwork
skills, Rockford has had no new industries since before World War
II, except for an ordnance plant. The products made in the area,
other than machine tools and related metal products, include farm
implements, gas stoves, locks, hardware for buildings, tin containers,
textiles, clothing, and furniture. At the time of the Women’s Bureau

48

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

visit in late 1951, the ordnance plant was being reactivated. A number
of subcontracts and two large contracts for shell making had been let
to the local firms and more were expected.
The 14,000 women workers in Eockford reported in the 1950 census
represented an increase of almost a third above 1940. They consti­
tuted 32 percent of the area’s labor force, about the same proportion
as the 31 percent in all urban areas in the United States. (See table
5.) Not far from half the women nonagricultural workers were man­
ufacturing employees—a proportion considerably larger than in other
areas reported here, except for several in Connecticut. (See table 6.)
Employment of women had declined somewhat in all nonagricultural
industries from the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952. Even in the fall
of 1951, there were 1,200 women available for work, including many
who would go to work if they could find adequate care for their chil­
dren. Others among those seeking work were over 50 years of age,
and still others were inexperienced in-migrants from southern Illinois,
Missouri, and Arkansas, some of them Negroes. Reports as to em­
ployed married women are incomplete, but in two plants employing
nearly 2,000 women it was estimated that over 60 percent were married.
Day-care services for children.—The Eockford Community Chest
sponsors the Eockford Day Nursery Association, a service association
that has been in existence over 30 years, which in turn administers
one day nursery providing services for 75 children from 2 to 5 years
of age, and with hours from 6: 30 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m. The chest also
supports five community centers, some of which conduct nursery
schools. The children in the day nursery ordinarily come from fam­
ilies where both parents must work, or from families supported by
only one parent, usually by the mother, but in a few cases, where the
mother is ill, by the father. Fees range from $1 to $10 a week per
child.
The five centers supported by the Community Chest are located in
congested areas, and two of them that have nursery schools could ex­
pand to give full-day service. They take children for a morning or
an afternoon session at a charge of $1 a week for lunches. They in­
formally carry some children through the day at a charge of $6 a
week. One of these has 34 Negro children aged 2 to 5, about twothirds of whom stay only half the day, either because of the cost, or
because in this crowded area there may be someone at home to look
after them. The other agency has 68 children 5 years of age for a
half-day kindergarten session.
Besides these chest-supported facilities, a church group has organ­
ized a cooperative nursery school which takes 27 children 3 to 5 years
old for a half-day session. The fee is $12 a month plus two mornings
a month to be given by the mother, and spare time by fathers to con­

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

49

struct equipment. Though not well-adapted to serve working mothers,
this nursery school had a full-time director and a part-time staff and
could be expanded as dictated by the needs of the middle-income area
where it is located.
Aside from the day nurseries and nursery schools mentioned, a total
of 23 day-care homes in the city and 2 others located just outside the
city are licensed to take small numbers. In all, 53 children are en­
rolled in these. When visited by the Bureau representative, however,
officers of the State welfare department felt sure they had not yet
learned of all such homes that should come under the recently revised
State licensing law.
No plans had been made for extended school services in Rockford.
School funds did not permit making such plans. It was believed space
would be available for such services if they could be financed, although
most schools in the county are so crowded that schooling has to be
limited to half-days for children through the third, and sometimes the
fourth, grade.
Evidences of need and future flans.—The long waiting list of the
Rockford day nursery appears to indicate existing need of greater
day-care facilities, which would be far from met even with the open­
ing of a proposed new center. The director of the welfare group of
the churches reported that frequently the mother in low-income fam­
ilies who most needed to earn was unable to do so because there was
no care available for her child.
Requests for foster-home care through the juvenile court had in­
creased, and in 1951 probation officers reported that many parents
are forced to this expedient if the mother must work to help sup­
port the family and her working hours do not permit use of neighbor­
hood facilities for child care. In one morning, requests for such
relief had come to the court from eight families. The case load of
juvenile delinquency problems among minors also had risen greatly
in 1951 over 1950, and of the 617 children affected in the first 9 months
of 1951' over a fourth had mothers at work.
Industrial plant officials felt child care was becoming a serious
problem. A chief department store reported difficulty with absentee­
ism and turnover among employees who were mothers of small chil­
dren. Several manufacturing plants sought, before employing
mothers, to be sure care of children was provided for. Some ex­
panded need for women workers was expected as the ordnance plant
came into production and subcontracts elsewhere drained labor from
existing plants. The available single women already were at work,
for the most part, and more married women undoubtedly would be
needed. This pointed to the need for expanding the already inade­
quate child-care facilities, and efforts were being made to do this.

50

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

The council of social agencies has had two active committees whose
work touched this subject—one examining the overlapping of agencies
and gaps that need to be filled, the other examining the foster-care
situation. In addition, a survey was being made of the child-care
needs of women job applicants at the employment service offices, since
a private nursery was applying for a license and funds. In order to
check more fully on the child-care facilities that should come under
the revised State law, the State child welfare division has arranged
with newspapers that any woman wishing to place an advertisement
offering child care is referred to the child welfare division for clear­
ance. The agency lias also established a small file of cleared day­
care homes and refers women inquiring about facilities to one of these
homes. Officials of the child welfare division believe that it would
not be difficult to expand this type of file and improve informational
services to mothers if adequate staff were provided.
THE "QUAD CITIES"2

The Iowa city of Davenport faces the smaller Illinois cities of Rock
Island, Moline, and East Moline across the Mississippi, with the Rock
Island arsenal in mid-river. This area has aspects of economic unity,
with labor needs, flow of workers, and plant representation interlock­
ing. Inevitably many of the activities and problems in such an area
will affect all four cities. On the other hand, each of these “quad
cities” is a vital unit in itself, with its own customs and with its own
individual system of government. This results in part from the fact
that two States are represented, with differing interests, laws, and
agencies.
The Iowa and the Illinois parts of the area also differ considerably
in types of industries and extent of employment of women. The Illi­
nois side, with its three cities, has three-fourths of the area’s industry,
dominated in general by the heavier industries, chiefly numerous
plants of three large agricultural implement companies and a Govern­
ment arsenal. Its employment of women is relatively small in pro­
portion to total employment. The Iowa side, with the largest of the
four cities, is the major trading and service section of the area and
has a number of woman-employing industries and several new plants
of a type likely to employ women. Its labor force includes women
in much the same proportion as the average for urban areas in the
United States as a whole.
In this single economic area, split by so many barriers, liaison be­
tween the two sides of “The River” is effected through cooperative
activities of the Employment Service and the Quad-Cities Associa­
tion of Industries, the actual flow of workers and shoppers back and
2 Davenport, Iowa, and Rock Island, Moline, and East Moline, 111.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

51

forth across the two toll bridges and the free “government bridge” to
the arsenal, many courtesy and invitational exchanges of serviceclub and trade-association personnel, the area labor-management com­
mittee, and informal activities of various sorts.
The entire “Quad-Cities” area had 26,500 women workers in 1950.
(See table 5.) This was an increase in employment of women of
almost 10 percent above 1940; the proportion of women in the labor
force had risen from 23 percent in 1940 to 27 percent in 1950.
There appears to be little change in number of women workers since
1950. Women were about a fifth of the workers in manufacturing,
a proportion smaller than in most cities reported here. (See table 6.)
This is due to the predominance of heavy industry in a large part
of the area. The available supply of women seeking work exceeded
opportunities for them and the Quad-Cities Association of Indus­
tries, which had its own manpower committee functioning informally,
thought the area would benefit by having a new large industry that
would employ a considerable number of women.
DAVENPORT, IOWA

Davenport is the largest city in the “Quad-Cities” area, with a
population not far from 75,000. It has a considerable population of
German extraction, many of them retired farmers. Davenport has
the highest proportional utilization of women in the “Quad-Cities”
area, according to the Employment Service director. Census figures
show women as 30 percent of all workers, much the same as in urban
areas in the United States as a whole (31 percent).
The 11,000 women employed in Davenport in 1950 represent an
increase of a third from 1940. (See table 5.) This is the trade and
service center for the “Quad-Cities” area, with a concentration of
department stores and large hotels normally hiring many women.
About a fifth of its women workers, almost 2,500 of them, are in
manufacturing. Industries such as meat packing and electrical equip­
ment employ women extensively. When the Women’s Bureau visited
the area in late 1951, the large new electrical supply and aircraft
parts plants recently located in the area had a work force but little
over a tenth women, but these are industries that usually employ
many women. They were expecting to expand rather rapidly and
thought they might eventually need almost 1,000 women. Currently
they were hiring at the gate and had plenty of applicants.
Day-care services for children*—Davenport has for years had an
all-day center for care of working mothers’ children, which is oper­
ated by the Industrial Welfare Society (a family-service agency of
long standing). It is in a congested area and has capacity for only
30 children, hence it limits nursery service to children whose mothers

52

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

are their only support. Hours are 7:15 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m. and fees
are adjusted to ability to pay, usually $1 a day. The nursery also
allows some young children to come in after school if they formerly
had been in the nursery. In addition, the agency assists mothers
to find day-care homes that take small numbers. Eleven homes are
used for this purpose and three more were being added at the time
of the Women’s Bureau visit in late 1951. During World War II the
agency operated three nurseries in various parts of the city, none of
which was used to capacity, and felt referral to homes more
satisfactory.
Besides this local agency, the State welfare department has an
active branch in the county, which, in cooperation with the Catholic
Charities, had 17 homes recommended for use. The agencies were
sure that there also were many private arrangements in the area,
which were not known to them.
Evidences of need and future flans.—The attention formerly given
to day care in Davenport has kept community agencies alive to this
subject. Furthermore, the personnel officers of the new airplane
parts and electrical supply plants recently located in the area recog­
nized the importance of planning for day care, especially in view of
the increased employment of women they were projecting. One of
them had begun by employing only single women, then took women
having one child, but finally took women with more children, trying
first to make sure that day-care arrangements had been made.
Most of the mothers applying to the community agencies for advice
and information were young women whose husbands also were em­
ployed. Some persons in the community felt progress had been made
in persuading employers to employ local women—the older as well as
the younger, and including the married—rather than “floater men”
from outside the area who might prove less stable.
It was thought that the area had sufficient resources to meet the
day-care needs. At the time of the Women’s Bureau visit in late
1951, no extended school services had been developed. One plan pro­
posed in conferences of the welfare agencies with the school director
of adult education was to arrange child care for mothers taking an
evening course leading to employment, at the same time providing
a course for women desiring to give child care. From the project
could later be developed both a daytime nursery for children of em­
ployed mothers and additional homes for day care.
ROCK ISLAND, MOLINE, AND EAST MOLINE, ILL.

Each of the three cities in Bock Island County, on the Illinois side
of the river, has a population under or but little over 50,000. Each
has its own strong individuality and its own separate systems of

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

53

government, schools, transport, public welfare, and its own independ­
ent organizations of business men, women’s groups, church agencies,
and so forth. Populations of differing national origins characterize
these separate cities. In Rock Island there is a high percentage of
Belgian extraction, many of Swedish and Irish origin, and many
Negroes; in Moline the population is predominantly of Swedish ori­
gin and there are also large groups of Belgian and Mexican extrac­
tion; East Moline has a highly organized Greek-American group.
Among the more unifying influences in the county as a whole are
offices of the State employment service and the public welfare division.
In the entire area, employment is largely concentrated in numerous
plants of three large farm-implement companies and a Government
arsenal. The farm-implement plants require heavy metal operations
that usually employ only small proportions of women, but in the
arsenal about a fifth of the employees are women, though here and in
a large Moline agricultural-implement company making aircraft parts,
two-thirds of the women workers are in clerical and technical occupa­
tions. In spite of this, these plants had about 1,500 women in plant
operations. Personnel officers of the arsenal called attention to the
fact that at the time of the Women’s Bureau visit a sizable proportion
of the job applicants who were being taken on were single women who
had been school teachers. In several smaller companies in Rock Island
making electrical appliances, clothing, and rubber footwear, almost
1,000 women were employed, constituting 60 percent or more of the
labor force in these establishments.
Although the arsenal was hiring unskilled women in late 1951 as
rapidly as skilled men could be found for key jobs upon which the less
skilled operations depend, it was not expected that there would be an
appreciable upturn in the employment of women in Rock Island
County as a whole. There was a much greater supply of women appli­
cants than of jobs; in a week’s time while the Women’s Bureau repre­
sentative was visiting the area fewer than a fifth of the women
applicants were hired. Personnel authorities of this plant thought
1,000 women were available before any recruiting would be needed.
However, it was pointed out that few single women still were available
for appointment. This meant that the supply available consisted
largely of the married, and that day-care for children thus would be
likely to need consideration. In this period cut-backs in some of the
metal plants had occurred due to steel shortage, though this was
expected to be only a temporary situation.
Day-care services for children.—In Rock Island County no centers
exist for day care of children of working mothers. There are four
licensed homes, caring for no more than four children each, which
might become a nucleus for establishing centers. The Moline YWCA

54

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

offers to care for children of mothers who need to shop or go to the
doctor, and the Jewish Center for the county conducts a half-day
kindergarten. Aside from a small number of known day-care homes,
informal and individual arrangements seem to prevail. The area does
not have a high utilization of women, and even at the maximum of
World War II employment public facilities did not provide for day
care. There was some belief that one reason for lack of attention
to child-care provision is that there is a large proportion of long­
term residents with relatives and neighbors known as sources of aid
to the working mother. On the other hand, numerous hardship cases
were reported of mothers having to pay as high as $15 a week for care,
and consequent resort of low-income families to the use of foster
homes. One mother was reported having to place her child 15 times
in as many months.
Evidences of need and future plans.—Some of the employers, in­
cluding one who had developed counseling for his women employees
during the war, and one located in a Mexican and Negro neighborhood,
saw the day care of working mothers’ children as an important prob­
lem for solution in the community.
Women’s organizations and some school authorities were concerned
over the general problems centering around the community’s young
people. The State welfare department established a local child wel­
fare division in 1949, and currently a survey of juvenile delinquency
and its causes was being made with a view to developing neighborhood
councils and centers. Juvenile court cases were concentrated in areas
characterized by density of population, substandard housing, and low
family incomes that required both parents to work in a large propor­
tion of families.
BURLINGTON, IOWA

Prior to World War II, Burlington, Iowa, had been for 50 years
a small, rather homogeneous city of about 35,000 population, about
3,000 of whom were women workers. The city’s relatively stable in­
dustrial life was centered chiefly around the Burlington Railroad
shops and section office activities. It also had a number of small in­
dustrial plants making furniture, soap, men’s and women’s clothing.
During World War II, this was one of the urban areas which, orig­
inally small, was suddenly enlarged enormously by being chosen as
the location of a new Government ordnance plant, in this case one
that employed at maximum 10,000 persons, about half women. This
precipitated the community into new problems of labor turnover, inand out-migration, and intensive overcrowding of housing, schools,
and all community facilities, including those for care for working
mothers’ children. In the spring of 1951 the ordnance plant was re-

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-5 2

55

vived and its summer demands for a very large number of new workers
within a short period of time again placed a prodigious strain on the
community.
The 1950 census reported almost 4,000 women employed in Burling­
ton, an increase of 38 percent above 1940. (See table 5.) These
women were 30 percent of all workers. Employment of women in
nonagricultural occupations (except household employment) was
considerably above this in the fall of 1951, when visited by a Women’s
Bureau representative. At that time the huge Government ordnance
plant, in which over half the workers were women, employed 40 per­
cent of all women nonagricultural employees. Several other indus­
tries, most of them small and some of them new after World War II
when the ordnance plant had closed, employed about 600 persons,
over three-fourths of them women. These included radio parts,
television, instruments, and advertising research. It was expected
that within less than a year’s time the ordnance plant and several
other industries with defense contracts or plans for expansion would
need an additional 3,000 women. While many of them might come
from other occupations, these would leave vacancies to be filled,
largely in service and trade.
Bay-care services for children.—The community has one day
nursery, a private agency supported by the Community Chest, caring
for about 20 children. Designed for the neediest cases, it admits
only children whose mothers are their sole support, charging a very
small fee. In addition, there are two licensed day-care homes, han­
dling not over 6 or 8 children each, and a private kindergarten that
was considering the possibility of undertaking full-time day care.
During World War II the county welfare agency had three day-care
centers, supported by Lanham Act funds, and some members of the
parent-teacher association undertook child care on a cooperative
basis.
Currently, there was little doubt that informal neighborhood and
family arrangements were made in perhaps hundreds of cases, where
one, two, or more children were being cared for. Such arrangements
are known to exist in practically every neighborhood in the city,
including the predominantly middle-income neighborhoods, but there
had been no way to tabulate or investigate them. The average charge
appeared to be $2 a day per child with noon lunch furnished.
Foster-home care seems to have been resorted to by some mothers
employed on swing shifts and rotating shifts, since few other facilities
are available for them. The State welfare department was receiving
increased requests for placement of children in homes, and also from
persons wishing to operate homes; the number of children in foster
homes already had increased.

56

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

There is no present program of extended school services, and no
space now available for any, though during World War II four pre­
school and after-school centers were provided, besides a nursery for
children under 5 years of age, and a half-day center for younger
children.
Evidences of need and future plans.—Those interviewed almost
unanimously believed that, although the situation as to day care
for working mothers’ children did not seem to be acute in the com­
munity as a whole in the fall of 1951, it was rapidly becoming so and
already was serious in some sections. It was thought that it soon
might be the foremost problem in the area if industrial expansion
moved toward the expected levels. In the ordnance plant, where
turnover was high, half the terminations of women over a 7-month
period were voluntary quits, almost all believed to be related to prob­
lems concerning community facilities or the dual responsibilities of
the married woman worker.
Other plants in the area likewise suffered from high turnover, a
considerable portion of which was attributed to child-care problems.
In some plants, rotating shifts made it particularly difficult to arrange
for child care, and for this reason a number of women found they had
to leave and take other jobs at less pay. Personnel officers believed
that a central agency to assist mothers in finding adequate day care
for their children before taking jobs would be a most helpful com­
munity service and an aid in reducing turnover and absenteeism.
That need for day care is closely bound up with many other economic
conditions was indicated by the judgment of a probation officer who
pointed out basic problems of poverty or low family income. The
mother’s work in numerous instances, he believed, becomes the more
necessary where the number of children is large and the father’s
earnings insufficient to provide for the family.
A suggestion of quite a different type for minimizing the problem
of day care was for the greater utilization of older women. The local
supply of women workers within the preferred ages 18-30 years was
about exhausted by the late fall of 1951. The reason these ages have
been preferred was in part that expert eye-hand dexterity is required
by much of the production-line assembly work of new industry. How­
ever, the ordnance and other plants do employ a considerable number
of older men and women, one of them experimenting especially with
methods of utilizing older women with bifocals on some of its close
work.
There were evidences that women beyond 30 and beyond 40 were
available for work. Nearly half of about 800 job applicants to one
large plant were 30 or over, a fourth being 40 or more. The manager
of another company had received, in response to a recent advertise­

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

57

ment, applications from 50 women of between 50 and 60 years of age,
most of them with grown children.
Aside from the problem of reducing turnover and absenteeism in
local industry, the following facts give additional concrete evidence
that even as early as the autumn of 1951 further day-care facilities
were needed in the community, and the plans for future expansion
already discussed give strong indications that such needs will increase
rather than lessen.
Of nearly 800 new women job applicants reported by one large company,
over half had children. Other smaller companies also reported large propor­
tions of their work force consisted of married women.
The one available day nursery always had many more applicants than
it could take. While it kept no record of these, it reported many calls of
inquiry daily. The welfare department also was receiving requests for
information on where child care would be available.
The YWCA was concerned about the number of small children coming
to their teen-age center because their mothers are working. This agency
also had frequent calls as to availability of child care—about 5 or 6 a week.
Surveys in two junior high schools reported 40 percent of the mothers of
children attending were employed.
Another school reported that of 26 children in the fourth grade 20 came
from homes where the mother was employed.
The number of school children who lived within walking distance but
who remained at school during the lunch period had doubled since a year
ago, according to an education official.

Actual provision for additional day care had not been made at the
time of the Women’s Bureau representative’s visit to Burlington in
late 1951, but agencies in the community already had constructive
plans afoot for consideration and solution of the problems of securing
a sufficient woman labor force and providing for day care and other
community needs. Active in developing these plans was a permanent
committee made up of representatives of the new-industry committee
of the chamber of commerce, the personnel committee of the manufac­
turers’ association, and the local manager of the State Employment
Service, with representatives of other community and voluntary agen­
cies to be added. A basic activity of this group was to initiate coop­
erative exchange of labor needs at least 60 days in advance, which
would enable more adequate planning for community needs such as
child care, housing, and transportation. Among the subcommittees
organized by this committee was one on utilization of women, which
as one of its earliest projects would initiate a survey of child-care needs
and facilities. This was designed to stimulate establishment of an
information center on available facilities for working mothers, and
encourage the development of further facilities as needed. Social
agencies, both State and local, and the PTA were among the groups
that had expressed interest and willingness to cooperate in this
community project.

58

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Kansas
WICHITA

Prior to 1940 Wichita had only a normal growth, but World War II
demands for aircraft brought a 50-percent increase in population
within 2 or 3 years, reaching an estimated peak population of nearly
211.000 in the greater Wichita area in 1944. Though some of the in­
migrants left after the war, many remained, and others who came in
offset the loss. With the expansion of the national defense program,
Wichita again became a boom town with an estimated population of
250.000 in greater Wichita and 200,000 in the city. Much of the new
development has been outside the city limits. Ten years ago Wichita
had 200 factories. In late 1951, when visited by the Women’s Bureau,
it had more than 550 manufacturing plants with new firms coming in
every month. Most of the recent additions are small subcontractors
for the aircraft industry.
Manufacturing industries in Wichita, except aircraft, are predomi­
nantly the heavy-metal type and therefore not conducive to the em­
ployment of women. Typical products are oil-field equipment; agri­
cultural equipment; concrete mixers; air-conditioning; heating and
lighting equi pment. Other important industries are grain milling and
printing and publishing. However, a lamp and stove company has
provided employment for women over a period of nearly 50 years,
there are a few clothing and canvas products manufacturers that utilize
women workers, and meat packing is an important industry which has
expanded in recent months. Wichita also is a trading center for a
large area, including 264 counties in parts of 7 States. A new develop­
ment is the Wichita air base, which will be a permanent installation
for technical training of Air Force personnel.
According to the 1950 census, the employment of women in Wichita
had increased almost two-thirds since 1940. (See table 5.) The
proportion of women in the labor force, however, had increased but
little and was 27 percent in 1950, less than the proportion in all urban
areas in the country (31 percent).
In the fall of 1951, when visited by the Women’s Bureau, Wichita
had about 32,000 women nonagricultural workers, an increase of al­
most a fourth in a year’s time, according to Employment Service
figures. Marked increases continued in 1952, these being to a large
extent in manufacturing. (See table 6.) By the fall of 1952 more
than a third of the nonagricultural women workers in the area were
in manufacturing, a larger proportion than in the majority of the
areas visited. According to the Employment Service figures for early
1952, the aircraft industry in the area employed over three-fourths
of all women in manufacturing, and women constituted more than a
fifth of all workers in aircraft plants.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

59

Day-care services for children.—Wichita has been one of five laborshortage areas in the United States. Since this highlighted the pos­
sibility that it might be urgent to provide further child-care facilities
of several types, plans for a careful survey of the situation were beingmade at the time of the Women’s Bureau visit in late 1951. Three
Federal agencies were cooperating in these plans, the Women’s Bu­
reau of the Department of Labor and the Office of Education and
the Children’s Bureau of the Federal Security Administration. The
following findings on facilities for day care are summarized as re­
ported in late 1951 by the Children’s Bureau.
A 1951 amendment of the Kansas licensing law, which included
day-care services, places primary responsibility for licensing with
the State board of health, providing that approval of the division
of child welfare, State department of social welfare, be secured be­
fore a license is issued.
Wichita has two nurseries supported by the Community Chest.
One had been licensed for 40 white children but was caring for 50
to 60, aged 2 to 8 years. It is open from 6:30 a. m. to 6: 30 p. m. on
5 days a week, with a maximum fee of $2 per day for parents who
can afford that amount. Four out of five parents pay less. The
other is for Negro children and had enrolled only 12 to 15, with no
waiting list, as the Negro population in the area is small. Its hours
are flexible, fees range from 50 cents to $1 a day, and no children
under 2 years are accepted.
Two commercial facilities were in operation in late 1951. One of
these was a nursery school that has been in existence a number of
years. It had 52 children aged 2 to 5, but their mothers were not
employed and most of them remained only until after lunch. The
other nursery was designed for 10 children but had 15, aged 16 months
to 4 years, whose mothers were working outside the home. Fees were
$12 for a 5-day week, $15 for 6 days. Licenses to operate 14 addi­
tional day-care centers for more than 4 children had been applied
for under the new legal regulations.
Licenses to operate 17 day-care homes also had been applied for,
5 of which had, at the time of the visit to Wichita, been cleared by
the State board of health. Also 4 applications had been made for
licenses to give 24-hour care. Advertisements for child care in pri­
vate homes were appearing regularly in the daily papers, usually
with only the address and telephone number given, sometimes also
stating the fee.
Five or six elementary school playgrounds were kept open after
school hours under supervision of physical education students from
Wichita University. However, 14 of the public schools already were
on a two-shift basis, and these crowded conditions made it unlikely

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

that a program, of extended school services could be developed on
any considerable scale.
Evidences of need and future plans.—The joint survey referred to
above was still in progress when the present report was in preparation.
At the time of the Women’s Bureau visit it was the general opinion
of personnel directors and other informed persons that the lack of
sufficient day-care services was a real problem to the community as a
whole, as well as to women who were either working or seeking work.
For example, the personnel director of a department store spoke of
child-care needs as one of her two greatest problems. Aircraft plants
were having great difficulty with turnover. And at the largest plant
about a tenth of the women’s terminations in the preceding month had
been due to lack of child-care facilities. The personnel director of
another large aircraft company also reported “family reasons” .were
given increasingly by both men and women for leaving the plant.
Personnel directors believed the real reasons for leaving frequently
were not the ones reported, and that many women failed to mention
child care as a reason, fearing it would count against them if apply­
ing elsewhere for a job.
Wichita continues as one of the few areas of labor shortage in the
United States, and it is probable that its great aircraft plants and
other industries not only will continue to need women but must in­
crease their employment. For this reason the need for day-care
facilities is likely to increase rather than abate.
Ohio
Two of the important and expanding industrial centers in Ohio
were visited by Women’s Bureau agents in the early summer of 1951.
Both had active groups surveying the situation as to day care of
children. Full information as to number of private units giving
such service, or number of children cared for, was not available. In
early 1951 the State law relating to licensing of child-care facilities
was interpreted as not including day-care homes and centers, and
hence the State does not license or supervise them as it does foster
homes. State and local welfare agencies recommend the same stand­
ards for day-care centers as for foster homes, but cannot enforce them
for the former. The State department of public welfare was adding
to its staff a consultant on day care, and there also was a citizens’
movement developing to change the licensing law to cover day-care
homes and centers.
In late 1950, prior to this interpretation of the law, the State depart­
ment of public welfare had licensed 53 agencies (day-care centers or
nurseries). Of these 38 had reported enrollment of nearly 1,600

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

61

children. Enrollment in the remaining agencies was not reported. It
was thought that part-day centers never licensed had a similar num­
ber of children enrolled. The Merrill-Palmer Directory listed 138
nursery schools or day-care centers in Ohio in 1950. (See table 4.)
Private agencies were the largest group of these, community services
the next in size, and a considerable number of others were under church
auspices.
DAYTON

The Dayton area employed 54,831 women in 1950, a striking increase
of over 60 percent from the number in 1940. (See table 5.) Their
proportion in the labor force also increased from 25 percent in 1940
to 29 percent in 1950. The major factor in this unusual increase in
numbers of women undoubtedly was the establishment in the area of
the enormous Government air base, and its development as an experi­
mental aircraft center. More than a third of all its employees were
women, 98 percent of whom were in clerical and some professional
occupations. Its demand for such workers had drawn them from
other industries and taken as many as training schools could provide.
The area has a continuing shortage of secretarial, office-machine op­
erating, and other clerical workers. From the fall of 1951 to the fall
of 1952 there was a slight decrease in the number of women workers
(exclusive of household workers), with but little change in their pro­
portion in the labor force. (See table 6.) With the great use of cleri­
cal workers in the area, it is not surprising that the proportion women
constituted of manufacturing workers was smaller than in most areas
visited.
The area also has other industries of longer standing than the air
base, including an envelope company with a high proportion of women
among its employees; two-thirds of these women are married. Women
also are employed extensively in a number of plants that produce
various metal and electrical products—for example, electric motors,
refrigerators, aircraft parts, and cash registers. Two of these estab­
lishments employed over 4,500 women, more than four-fifths of them
in plant rather than office occupations.
Nearby Springfield, about the same distance from the airfield as
from Dayton (9 or 10 miles), has a labor force of 21,000 persons, threefourths of them production workers in manufacturing. Both among
these and among the clerical workers in the plants a substantial pro­
portion are women, and in addition many Springfield women commute
to the airfield.
Day-care services for children.—At the time of the Women’s Bureau
visit near mid-1951 Dayton had only one public center for day care of
children; this was financed by the Community Chest and was for

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Negro children. There was no after-school program. During World
War II, 17 day nurseries had been in operation, and 8 to 10 centers
provided for school-age children.
There were known to be a number of privately run homes caring
for two or three children, but the exact number of these was unknown,
since currently there was no State licensing system in operation. The
local visiting nurse association licenses for health and fire hazards
those homes that care for three or more children.
During World War II, two large plants were operating day nurs­
eries, and another had planned to open one but had not done so. One
of these industry nurseries is still in operation and is located in a
highly industrialized area of the city where crowded conditions pre­
vail. It is under the charge of a trained nurse, and serves upwards
of 45 children. A mother may enter only one child, and if she has
more than one is asked to make other arrangements for her other
children. The fees are small (25 cents a day) and are not expected to
cover expenses, since this is considered a part of the plant’s welfare
program. If the mother is absent from the plant for a day the usual
charge of 25 cents a day is raised to 50 cents for the remainder of
the week.
Evidences of need and future plans.—The extent of future day­
care needs in Dayton and even the extent of the present need, wrere by
no means clear at the time of the Women’s Bureau visit near mid1951. The council of social agencies and the Miami Valley Per­
sonnel Association were cooperating in a survey of the situation. This
was to estimate, on the basis of its investigations, the number of women
with school-age children, the number who would work if their children
were cared for, the probabilities as to industrial expansion and in­
creased need for labor, and policies the expanding industries were
planning as to employment of married women.
Several large plants in the area had new building programs and
plans for expansion during 1951. The shortages of clerical workers
have been mentioned, and an eventual need for over a tenth more
women factory workers was estimated. It was felt that migration of
labor into the area would cause great overcrowding, and that efforts
therefore should be made to employ local women so far as possible.
Employers believed that there was a considerable supply of women
workers available, and that “hundreds” trained in World War II and
even some in World War I would respond to demands for workers.
Many of these women probably would be over 40 and have grown
children.
Some employers in the area had specific policies in regard to em­
ploying married women. One firm whose policy historically has been
to employ only single women has broadened its hiring qualifications to

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

63

take married women in clerical jobs or other occupations in scarce
supply. It also hires wives of its workers who are inducted into mili­
tary service. However, the married women are placed in a separate
category and do not have certain seniority rights accorded single
women workers.
Not only the extent of need, but also the possible methods of furnish­
ing day-care services seemed problematical at the time of the Wom­
en’s Bureau visit. School authorities saw themselves unable to finance
added after-school services. Already they were “fighting inflation”
with 85 percent of their funds going for salaries, and expected fa­
cilities to be overcrowded with the population increases. After com­
pletion of the survey referred to, it was hoped to organize a com­
munity-wide committee to investigate locations and resources to pro­
vide such day-care services as were required.
AKRON

Rubber manufacture is an outstanding industry in the Akron area,
which also is important in machine products. The labor force was 27
percent women, according to the 1950 census, smaller than the pro­
portion in urban areas in the United States as a whole (31 percent).
In 1950 the area employed 45,757 women, an increase of more than a
third from 1940. (See table 5.) Roughly a tenth of these were in
the rubber industry. Aircraft parts, food manufacture, plastics, and
publishing also employed women, though some of these plants were
smaller than those making rubber products.
I he impact of increased defense production had not seriously af­
fected Akron at the time of the Women’s Bureau visit near mid-1951,
and many of the area’s shops were not operating at full capacity. The
situation at that time appeared somewhat similar to that in World
War II, when Akron felt the impact of defense employment later
than Cleveland. Some manufacturing plants were planning expan­
sions of labor force, but thought this might require few additional
women.
There were women available for work, and one of the chief rubber
plants reported hundreds of them applying who could not be placed.
Many more, it was expected, would respond to more acute needs for
workers. One estimate was that as many as 10,000 women could be
found for work if needed. Although some plants were recalling
former workers, these were sent for on the basis of seniority, and
so far this was affecting men almost entirely.
There was some increase from 1951 to 1952 in the number of women
in nonagricultural employment (except household), though the pro­
portion in the labor force had changed but little. (See table 6.)
The proportion of women nonagricultural workers who were in man­

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

ufacturing was smaller than in any other area visited with but one
exception.
Day-care services for children.—There are no agency- or communitysponsored nurseries in the area, except one at East Akron accom­
modating 25 children. The Peoples Hospital recently set up a nursery
for children of nurses. During World War II the city had a number
of nurseries which women of the community wished continued, but
this could not be done because of the drain on the public funds and
the diminished need. However, in 1951 there were known to be 11
day-care homes caring for a total of 20 children. There also were
about 12 or 14 centers for teen-aged children, sponsored by churches,
the YWCA, YMCA, and other agencies.
Evidences of need and future flans.—Because of the current lack of
industrial expansion and the availability of a large woman labor sup­
ply referred to above, most of those with whom the subject was dis­
cussed felt there was not a pressing need for greatly increased day­
care facilities. Though current planning envisaged the employment
of women without children so far as possible, the experience of other
areas has been that such a policy had to be abandoned if any great
expansion occurred.
On the other hand, there had been a marked increase in late 1950
and the first half of 1951 in inquiries on child care. The family
service society was planning a monthly check of number of children
cared for to note increases that might be occurring. It was thought
that greater employment of women might be expected, and that this
was likely in the future to require more day-care provisions. The
council of social agencies believed that potential facilities such as
were active during the war could be reorganized to develop an excel­
lent program if needed. Various agencies in the community were
cooperating in a survey to ascertain the extent of the need that might
be expected and the methods of meeting it.
Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE

The county of Milwaukee ranked in size as the eighth industrial
center in the United States at the time of the 1947 Census of Manu­
factures. Evidences of increased demand for women workers in
the area in the current defense period led the Women’s Bureau to visit
Milwaukee near the close of 1951 to ascertain conditions as to women’s
employment, types of jobs into which they were going, opportunities
for training for such work, and community planning for women
workers, including care of children during their mothers’ work hours.
Milwaukee industries and business activities are diversified, with
emphasis on machine products and food products. Numerous defense

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

65

contracts have been let in the area, and some plant expansions are
in progress. Of its manufacturing, almost two-thirds is in durable
goods, including machinery, internal combustion engines, and related
metal products, such as a variety of machine tools and dies, metal
fabrication, foundry and forge products, electrical machinery and
products, and many others. Nondurable manufacturing includes food
products, shoes, and textiles. The bulk of the manufacturing firms
are small to medium sized, employing less than 50 workers, yet over
two-thirds of the factory employment occurs in firms having 500 or
more employees.
Employment of women.—The Milwaukee area had more than 116,­
600 women workers in 1950, an increase of about one-third from 1940.
(See table 5.) Women were 27 percent of the area’s labor force in
1940 and 30 percent in 1950. The number of women workers had
increased somewhat from the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952. (See
table 6.) The proportion of the women nonagricultural workers who
were in manufacturing industries was larger than elsewhere except
for Rockford, 111., and the Connecticut cities. About 70 percent of
the women workers were less than 45 years of age. Data on their
marital status were incomplete, but several plants reported from onehalf to two-thirds of their women employees married, and trade and
service establishments have a much greater proportion of married
women than manufacturing plants.
Day-care services for children.—Milwaukee has 8 day-care centers,
aside from its 4 private nursery schools, its extended school services,
and an unknown number of private homes that take care of fewer
than 4 children on a commercial basis. In the State as a whole, 40
day-care centers or nursery schools are listed in 1950 in the MerrillPalmer Directory of Nursery Schools. Of the 8 day-care centers in
Milwaukee, 3 are supported by the Community Chest, 2 are Catholic,
and 3 are private fee agencies. Together they care for 315 children
from 2 to 9 years of age.
The three Community Chest centers have a capacity of 170 chil­
dren. One takes children from 2 to 7 years of age and operates from
6: 30 a. m. to 6 p. m. on 5 days in the week, with fees of $10 to $12.50,
according to family need. This center can accept only one in six of
t he written applications for care, and besides this has many telephone
calls for aid. The other two centers, one in a Polish neighborhood
and one in an area serving Jewish and Negro families, take children
aged 2y2 to 5 years and are open from 7:15 or 7:45 a. m. to 5: 30
p. m. Fees run from $1 to $15 a week, based on family need. These
had long waiting lists which had been analyzed so that by late 1951
they had been brought down to a total of 80 unserved applicants.
The largest group waiting consisted of 3-year-old children.

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

The two Catholic centers have a combined capacity of 65 children,
both operating from 6:30 a. m. to 6:30 p. m., with fees determined
on the basis of need. One takes children 2 to 9, with fees averaging
$3.55 a week. The other takes children 2 to 6, with fees averaging $2.
In each case there are small additional charges for supplies.
The State department of public welfare licenses private facilities
that care for four or more children for more than 2 hours a day.
Milwaukee has three licensed private day nurseries, open 7 a. m. to
6 p. m., which have a combined capacity of 70 to 80 children. Their
fees are $11 to $15 a week.
There is no way of knowing fully the extent and type of care given
in homes serving less than four children. Some indication of extent
of such service may be seen in the fact that in the first 6 months of
1951 agencies affiliated or cooperating with the community welfare
council received almost 650 requests that they could not fill for day
care of children aged 2 to 9 years. In the last 5 months of 1950,
a spot check showed 206 individual advertisements in Milwaukee
newspapers that offered child care, where the advertiser was not
working with any of the agencies. The Milwaukee County welfare
agency discontinued aid to dependent children on an average of 20
cases a month during 1950 because the mothers went to work, and
in 5 months of 1951 (April to August) the number of closed cases
had increased to an average of 32 a month—a total of 161 cases in
this period. These children undoubtedly were cared for during the
day, though no report was available on types of care the mothers
had arranged for them.
Seven nursery schools were operating in the city and its suburbs.
Although they were open only part of the day and some were expen­
sive, they may be mentioned because it was possible some of them
could be extended to give day care. Altogether they were serving
about 150 children 2 to 5 years of age, one being under Community
Chest, one Catholic, and one under Jewish auspices; one, community
and parent sponsored; two private nonprofit; and one commercial
school.
School services.—Extended recreational services are well devel­
oped, with 55 school buildings in use for all ages, including 40
school social centers open after school to grade-school children, and
35 open in the evenings for older children and adults. In the spring
and summer 80 playgrounds are open and supervised from 8 a. m.
to 9 p. m. (in addition to extensive park development playfields and
centers). There were evidences that many children using these facil­
ities had mothers working, and undoubtedly it was proving an in­
valuable aid to employed mothers, though the extent of this was not
known. Programs are planned to meet changing needs of families

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

67

in the particular neighborhood, and thus could lend themselves to
service of children of employed mothers where needed.
Evidences of need and future plans.—Estimates of employment
needs were made by the Employment Service in late 1951, based on
known contracts or plans for new industries or for plant expansion.
These indicated that an additional 10,000 women would be needed
in the area labor force during 1952, and probably another 5,000 the
year following. Heavy industries already were taking on women
for types of work similar to those performed by women during World
War II. Though currently 3,000 women were reported unemployed,
half of these were considered to be only temporarily out of work.
Of the women 16 years of age and over who were not in the labor
force, only about a tenth were single, and of those married almost
two-thirds had children under 12 years of age.
All industries contacted by the Women’s Bureau representative al­
ready were affected by the lack of sufficient child-care service. There
were abundant evidences that the existing facilities were wholly in­
adequate to the current demands on them. Many personnel directors
considered this one of the most serious employment problems emerging
in the area, likely to become even more acute with the anticipated ex­
pansion of the labor force. In every large woman-employing indus­
try, instances were cited both of absenteeism and turnover among
women employees that were attributed directly to lack of child-care
facilities.
All the social welfare agencies also considered this a serious prob­
lem. The community welfare council has an informational service
to refer requests for child care to the proper agencies. At least one
of the largest woman-employing firms has numerous inquiries daily,
and keeps a file of State-licensed homes to which applicants are re­
ferred. The community welfare council set up in 1950 a special
child-care committee in a pattern similar to those established in World
War II here and in other communities, with representation from social
agencies, school authorities, industry, labor, and Employment Service.
A thorough and comprehensive study was made which might well be­
come a model for other areas, and a report was made in the spring of
1951. It included pertinent data on the child-care centers available—
both Community Chest financed and private—the conditions sur­
rounding voluntary private-home placement, requests from parents
in relation to the availability of facilities, standards of acceptance,
location of centers in relation to geographic areas of greatest concen­
tration of working mothers, and other information.
The committee found that existing agencies could handle only one
in six of the bona fide demands for day care. A record was kept of
requests received by 40 agencies over a 10-month period in 1951. These

68

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

numbered 1,000, excluding an additional 240 requests that were for
children under 2 years of age, or for temporary care only, or for home
service and the like. Of these, 659 were verified and classified as
within the jurisdiction of the three Community Chest agencies, but
only 122 of these applicants could be placed. Recommendations of
the committee included a plan to expand Community Chest facilities
to a capacity of 145 more children, though this would by no means
fully serve the demand, and even for this the funds had not yet been
secured. It was thought that more licensed homes taking 4 to 10 chil­
dren were needed, as well as many more nurseries or centers. How­
ever, in Milwaukee as elsewhere, informal neighborhood arrangements
will continue to be made by a large proportion of the working moth­
ers, including family arrangements such as work of parents on dif­
ferent shifts, calling on relatives or neighbors for aid, or hiring a
helper in the home. Furthermore, traditional emphases in some sec­
tions of the community tend toward objection to the large-scale en­
trance of married women into the labor force.
MOUNTAIN STATES
Colorado
The three Colorado cities visited by the Women’s Bureau in the
spring of 1951 (one revisited in the late summer) all were or were fast
becoming short of labor supply. Various agencies connected with
Federal military organization or supply had been established or
expanded in this State. Coupled with this also wTas growth in exist­
ing industries. The requirements of the added population and work
force, combined with the needs of earlier residents and of a customary
large tourist trade, demanded more workers to furnish supplies and
services.
The Board of Standards of Child Care of Colorado is unlike that
of any other State. Set up in 1923, it consists of nine members,
including representatives of the departments of health, welfare, and
education, together with lay persons, and must include one Catholic,
one Jew, and one Protestant. It is the authority that licenses public
and private child-care facilities, including day-care centers, nurseries,
boarding homes, and foster homes.
DENVER

The 72,000 women workers reported in Denver by the Census of
1950 represented an increase of more than 50 percent since 1940. (See
table 5.) They were 30 percent of the labor force as compared to 28

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

69

percent in 1940. From the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952, there was
a marked increase in number of women workers in nonagricultural
occupations (except household employment). (See table 6.) The
proportion of women who were in manfacturing was smaller than in
most cities visited.
Denver was reported to have a tighter labor market in the spring of
1951 than at any time during World War II, and demands for workers
were continuing to expand. In addition to regional offices of Federal
agencies, Denver had a newT and very large veterans’ hospital, and
the Air Force finance center recently transferred there expected to
need 3,500 workers, many of them to be women in clerical occupations.
Furthermore, Denver is the State capital, which requires many clerical
and other employees. Owing to these activities it is not surprising
that the proportion of women workers who were in manufacturing
was smaller than in most other areas. Women were employed in a
spark-plug plant, and in a rubber plant (which had increased employ­
ment about a fourth from June 1949), and women were working on
each of three shifts in a steel plant.
Denver had six child-care centers, formerly operated with the aid
of Lanham funds and now under the Community Chest. These had
enrolled 320 children and all had waiting lists. Fees were $3 to
$10.50 a week, hours 7 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m., 5 days a week. There were
13 or 14 commercial centers, all expensive and some not providing
all-day care. A total of 136 licensed facilities was reported, many of
them foster homes.
The industrial Employment Service, and social welfare officials
interviewed believed the need for additional facilities for the day care
of children was acute, with little promise that local community funds
could be further stretched to meet it. A labor official, though feeling
that in general mothers should not be. called into the labor force,
thought that child care should be provided for those who must work.
All existing day-care agencies for children had continuing waiting
lists. A survey made in eight cities by the Child Welfare League of
America in the spring of 1951 reported a 100-percent increase in appli­
cations for the day care of Denver children over a current 5-month
period.
A housing project nearing completion, designed for 500 families in
lower-income groups where many mothers must work, had provided
no facilities for a nursery school, though the request for this was made.
Near these homes a new macaroni factory is being built which will
employ “quite a number” of women. The Community Chest had re­
quested that a survey of housing and child-care facilities be made by
the special services department of the Employment Service.

70

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

COLORADO SPRINGS

The 1950 census reported about 6,700 women workers in Colorado
Springs in 1950, an increase of almost 50 percent above the 1940 num­
ber. (See table 5.) The proportion of women among all workers
also had increased, from 32 percent in 1940 to 36 percent in 1950,
well above the 31 percent for urban areas as a whole. Estimates
of the Employment Service in the spring of 1951 were much larger
than this, and showed about 9,000 women in nonagricultural employ­
ment, exclusive of household workers. In 1950-51 the usual winter
drop in employment did not occur, but instead there was a continuing
rise. Great expansions had taken place, and were continuing at the
time of the Women’s Bureau visit in the summer of 1951, in the labor
force at nearby Camp Carson and the Air Defense Command.
Women clerical workers constitute a considerable proportion of these.
Manufacturing plants in the city are not large, and are of a type to
employ only small proportions of women, but they were planning to
take on new workers, some of them women. The tourist trade always
requires many women workers. All told, the Employment Service
had placed almost 1,000 workers during March and April of 1951,
over a third of them women.
Colorado Springs had two day-care centers, both receiving Com­
munity Chest funds and having some endowment. The one with
the heavier endowment was established in 1897, had 85 children
enrolled aged 3 to 10, and operated from 7:00 a. m. to 6:30 p. m.
5 days a week. It had received almost 100 new applications in the
preceding 7 months. The other had 33 children enrolled aged 3 to 5,
and it also was receiving a regular increase in applications. Both
of these centers took children of white, Negro, Indian, and Mexican
parents and charged fees of $3 to $7 a week. The larger one reported
the mothers of its enrollees to be working as waitresses, beauty oper­
ators, nurses’ aides, and in clerical and laundry occupations. The
city had four private nurseries, all charging $65 a month.
The continuation of new applications for child care, coupled with
the expected increases in demand for workers, indicated a need for
additional facilities. The most frequent requests were for the care
of very young children, 2 to 3 years of age.
PUEBLO

The 1950 census showed 8,200 women workers in Pueblo, an increase
of 50 percent above 1940. (See table 5.) However, the proportion
of women among all workers showed little increase in the decade,
and was 25 percent in 1950, smaller than in almost any other area
visited. The Employment Service estimates show some increase from
the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952 in the number of women in non-

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-5 2

71

agricultural employment in Pueblo (exclusive of household employ­
ees), but women still were only 26 percent of the city’s labor force.
(See table 6.) Manufacturing employed about a fourth of the women
workers, and of these 60 percent were in the Government ordnance
plant. About a fifth of the Pueblo population is Mexican and there
also is a considerable Negro population. Many of the women workers
commute long distances, some as far as 75 miles.
The city had one public day-care center, a joint community project
that had been built with WPA funds, never had Lanham Act funds,
and was now supported chiefly by the Community Chest with Junior
League aid. Fees were on a sliding scale with a maximum of $1 a
day, and hours were 7 a. m. to 6 or 7 p. m. With an enrollment
of 136 children 2 to 10 years of age, the center was so overcrowded
in the spring of 1951 that reinvestigations were being made and
children moved to private homes where possible. At the time of
the Women’s Bureau visit 12 homes had been approved though not
yet licensed. Plans were under discussion for two commercial nurs­
eries. One of these accommodating 20 children had opened, but was
able to run only about 4 months, closing in August. This may have
been because mothers could not afford the fee of $2 a day, later
reduced to $1.50; in addition it did not serve Mexican or Negro
children, groups very greatly , needing such service but with low
income.
Interviews in Pueblo indicated that an urgent need wTas felt for
additional child-care facilities, and it was thought that the situation
was likely to grow worse. The Pueblo ordnance plant, largest manu­
facturing employer of women, was a small temporary depot in October
1950, had become more than 3 times as large by April 1951, and its
growth was continuing. Women were about a fifth of the workers,
and it was claimed they performed more types of jobs here than in
any other ordnance plant. The agencies reported new applications
for child care continuing, though less in the summer, probably because
older children when at home from school were depended on to look
after the younger ones.
The need was considered particularly urgent for child care for the
Mexican and Negro populations for whom no such service was avail­
able. This is pointed up by one dramatic story of a Negro working
mother who wrote the President of the United States regarding lack
of child-care facilities, also stating she knew of at least 100 children
in her own neighborhood whose mothers had to work.
This mother was employed in the ammunition department of the Pueblo
ordnance plant, working on the third shift (12: 30 a. m. to 8: 30 a. m.) for
which she received a pay differential of 6 cents per hour. She had five chil­
dren aged 14 months to 10 years, the two oldest staying with their grand­
parents. Her husband was at home with the three youngest children at

72

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE
night, but left at 7 a. m., so they were alone until their mother returned at
9 a. m. or later, after a trip of over 14 miles from the plant. She had little
opportunity to sleep by day because of the small children. She reported
that some women offered jobs at the ordnance plant could not take them
because they had no place to leave their children. In the summer she was
transferred to a factory clerical job of checking materials and to the shift
of 4:30 p. m. to 1 a. m., but there still was considerable time between her
leaving home and her husband’s arrival there. She reported her problem
would be greater in the fall, since the 6-year-old had to go to school and
the grandparents could no longer keep the two older children. She had no
room for them in her 2-room house which rented for $10 a month and had
no water nor plumbing, and they had been unable to locate other accommo­
dations.

Idaho
IDAHO FALLS

Idaho Falls was visited by the Women’s Bureau in the fall of 1951
and again about a year later. Until 1949-50, this had been a stable
community of about 19,000 population, largely an agricultural and
trading center for the surrounding countryside. Plants employing
women were largely in food industries, such as potato dehydrating,
sugar-beet processing, and seed sorting. They employed only small
numbers of women, some of them for only a few months in the year.
This small city is the only city in Idaho with a temple of the Latterday Saints, which gives it great prestige in a population of this faith.
The Government recently (about 1948) brought to this community
an atomic energy project, locating the plant some distance from the
city where its offices were established. Several private companies
holding Government contracts also set up activities in the area.
Before the plants were in operation, the administrative wTork of the
projects, as well as large construction forces necessary to build the
plants, brought a considerable new population. These were followed
by new shopping centers, stores, and other services. For every worker
who had come in for the atomic energy project two service or trade
workers had newly entered the community. The population had ex­
panded to about 23,000 by the fall of 1952, increases were continuous,
and considerably greater expansion was expected to follow shortly.
Great care had been taken in planning along various lines for the
expected growth, and one plant official commented that housing had
been taken care of better than in almost any other rapidly expanding
community.
In 1950, Idaho Falls had about 2,200 women workers according to
census reports. This was an increase of almost two-thirds above 1940.
(See table 5.) The proportion of women in the labor force increased
from 23 percent in 1940 to 29 percent in 1950. The marked growth
in number of women workers since operation of the new industries
was noted by residents, and expansion was continuing in 1952. Sev­

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-5 2

73

eral firms reported that half of their women employees were married.
It was thought that of the young employed married women the ma­
jority had children. An official of one company reported frequent
requests for time off to care for home needs, but said this time always
was made up and praised women’s performance.
Employed women had been leaving their jobs, especially in clerical
occupations, for new openings offering higher pay. However, some
objected to work in outlying plants involving commuting for some
40 miles because the distance materially lengthened the working day,
sometimes to 12 hours, from 6: 30 a. m. to 6: 30 p. m. The demand
exceeded the supply of nurses, experienced waitresses, stenographers,
and expert clerical workers. New jobs often were filled from outside
the area. In recruiting such help, companies were attempting to get
women with relatives in the area with whom they could live. Ex­
perienced workers, usually young married women, also were drawn
back into the labor market.
At the same time, there seemed to be no acute over-all shortage of
women workers in the area. It was stated that employers could get
women workers by offering enough pay. Moreover, there was a con­
tinuing surplus of unskilled women job seekers. Department stores,
restaurants, and laundries had long waiting lists of applicants in
1951, and in 1952 there was little change in the situation. Unemploy­
ment claimants, many of them older women, increased markedly in
1951.
Day-care services for children.—By Idaho law the State depart­
ment of public assistance has the responsibility for licensing—after
inspecting for health and sanitation and considering general adequacy
of the applicant to give such care—day-care homes (for 2 to 6 chil­
dren) , day-care centers (for more than 6 children), and 24-hour homes.
The Merrill-Palmer Directory of day nurseries and day-care centers
reported four in Idaho in 1950. The Idaho Falls expansion alone
has added to this. There seems to have been little coordinated plan­
ning on this subject by public agencies, except for the summer kinder­
gartens recently conducted in the schools.
In the fall of 1951 two day-care centers and five day-care homes,
together caring for 40 children, and three 24-hour homes caring for 7
children (usually at least 2 years of age) had been licensed. The
day-care centers were full and could not be expanded. By the fall
of 1952, two of the day-care homes had shifted to serving elderly
persons and no longer took children, and the county welfare depart­
ment reported that no new ones had been licensed. Hours of operation
of the day-care homes usually were 8: 30 a. m. to 5:30 p. m., with a
hot noon meal, and rates $1.50 a day per child, amounting to $9 for
a 6-day week.

74

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

A large private kindergarten with 65 children was providing varied
services, and in addition would send someone to care for a sick mother
at the rate of $2 a day. It had a morning and an afternoon kinder­
garten and also provided full-day care for 20 to 35 children 4 or 5
years of age. Hours were 8 a. m. to 6 p. m. and several assistants were
employed. Costs were $5 for enrollment and $1 a day with additional
50 cents for those having lunch. This combination kindergarten-day­
care center was operating to capacity and had turned down requests
to take about 100 more children within the year.
Many small nurseries were reported operating in all sections of
town, some with as many as 15 children. In the smaller private
nurseries or kindergartens, the usual rates were $1.50 a day for one
child, $2.50 for two children, and $3 for three children. Hours
ordinarily were 8: 30 a. m. to 5: 30 p. m. One recently started with
an average enrollment of 10 children aged 2 to 6, kept open late
enough to serve parents working in outlying places, and also would
care for children on Saturday, or at night if parents wanted to go out.
There was no complete record of all services available for child
care. Those known served chiefly children 2 to 6, and there seemed
no provision for the care of children under 2. The majority of work­
ing mothers were believed to be making private arrangements for the
care of their children by family members or neighbors or through
commercial facilities within their means. In this community, youth­
ful marriage and large families are customary, and women of the
locality tend to remain in their home areas, so that if mothers work
there frequently are family members or neighbors who can care for
children. In some cases this was expensive; for example, one mother
reported paying a neighbor $15 a week to care for her two children
(in first and third grades) before and after school. Cost was the same
in summer. She felt this was high, but knew the care was good.
About 100 high-school girls were employed after school to care for
younger children until their parents returned from work and from
100 to 200 gave full-day care to children during the summer.
In other cases no care is provided, as for example for two children
aged 11 and 14, whose mother considered them old enough to look after
themselves, reporting that they seldom got home much before the
parents did.
School service.—In 1951 a nursery school specialist and other
interested women, working through the American Association of Uni­
versity Women and the Parent-Teacher Association, were instru­
mental in starting a 6-week summer kindergarten to prepare young
children for entry to the first grade. In the summer of 1952, these
were operating in every school in the city, running with two sessions
daily. The registration fee was $3 but children unable to pay con­
tinued to attend.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

75

For school-age children school authorities reported beyond-hours
extension of school services to be out of the question. In 1951, over­
crowding was so great that half-day sessions were the rule, even
through junior high, and in a number of cases basements of churches
and public buildings had to be used for classrooms for grade-school
children. By the fall of 1952 a new high-school building had been
completed, and this eased the situation so that more space was avail­
able and half-day sessions were not currently necessary. However,
500 additional school children were reported in the early fall of 1952,
with more expected to enter. High-school students old enough for
employment usually work after school hours in groceries or other
stores, services, agriculture, or caring for young children. In Sep­
tember 1952, the city superintendent of schools was conducting a
school-wide survey of the type and place of occupation of the parents,
date parents moved to the city, and date of enrollment of the student.
It was expected that the resulting data would have many uses in the
planning and development of other community resources to meet
expansion strains.

SOUTHWESTERN STATES
Texas
DALLAS

Dallas is a pivotal financial, manufacturing, and trading center of
the Southwest. Its manufacturing is diversified, tending toward
lighter products, particularly electrical and electronics equipment,
cotton ginning equipment, and more recently aircraft. However, since
its early economic growth was related to its location in the heart
of the cotton region, textiles and clothing manufacture represents a
substantial part of its basic economy, and it has become an increasingly
important center for these products. The area became a center for
aircraft and parts manufacture during World War II, and these
activities have increased employment in the current defense period.
The new plants are permanent installations, themselves tending to
draw more industry to the area, and the aircraft plants have brought
growth in subcontracting and in machine-tool and electronics indus­
tries. These are among factors indicating that the expansion is a
long-term trend. The population includes both Latin Americans and
Negroes, constituting a considerable labor reserve.
Employment of women.—It will be noted that a number of the
industries in this area are of types that usually employ many women.
Over 93,000 women were in the 1950 labor force in Dallas, an increase
of 56 percent above 1940. (See table 5.) Though the proportion of

76

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

women among all workers increased but little in the decade, it was
34 percent in 1950, higher than the 31 percent in urban areas through­
out the country. This fact, and the character of the industries
indicate that matters relating to women workers are a permanent
part of the locality’s employment pattern. The employment of
women in nonagricultural occupations (except household work) was
continuing to increase in 1952. (See table 6.) The proportion of
these women workers who were in manufacturing is lower in Dallas
than in most areas visited.
There is a broad spread in the ages of Dallas women workers, with
many employers reporting the average age of their employees as 30
years. Some employers indicated a preference for older women. The
1950 census reported about 70 percent of all women workers in the area
to be under 45. The majority of companies reported at least 60 per­
cent of their women employees as married and well over half as
mothers of children. In addition, some employers expressed surprise
at the number of divorced or widowed workers with heavy responsi­
bilities in the support of their families. One electrical manufacturing
company reported many quite young women to be the sole support of
their children.
Day-care services for children.—The State of Texas had 52 child­
care centers in 1950, as listed in the Directory of Nursery Schools, 1951,
compiled by the Merrill-Palmer School of Michigan. As of April
1952, the Dallas area had 8 child-care centers sponsored by the Commu­
nity Chest, and 5 centers operated by churches. In addition, it had 80
homes licensed to take small numbers of children on a commercial
basis.3 The mothers served by Community Chest agencies usually are
those from the lower economic levels, since in these agencies fees are
adjusted to ability to pay, which cannot be done by the commercial
homes. A sliding scale of fees is charged, from nothing to an esti­
mated $1.65 a day. These fees represent about 38 percent of the cost of
administration of the centers, including building maintenance, equip­
ment, and debt retirement. Hours are arranged to fit the needs of
parents, and some centers open at 6:30 a. m. and do not close until
6 p. m.
The State department of public welfare licenses nonprofit and com­
mercial day-care centers that serve more than six children for any part
of a day and commercial boarding homes that serve less than six chil­
dren under 16 years of age for all or any part of a day. The depart­
ment learns of private homes as best it can, and estimates that 220 in
the Dallas area take children, though not licensed. These various
3 Of these, 60 were licensed by the State department of public welfare, the remainder by
the city health department pending State licenses.

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-5 2

77

facilities cared for over 3,500 children in the spring of 1952 as the fol­
lowing shows:
Children

in

Day-Cake Facilities

Type offacility

Total-----------------------------------Community Chest sponsored:
6 for white_____________________
2 for Negro _
Church centers:
3 for white__
_____
2 for Negro._
_____ _
__
Commercial homes:
80 licensed_______ ____ ________
Private homes:
220 estimated __

Number
enrolled

Fees

3, 564

386 1
118 ] 0 to $1.65 per day.
60
500

$8 to $10 per week.
Nominal fees, if any

1, 500

$8 to $10 per week.

1,000

Various fees.

The enrollment in the centers usually is considerably above their
capacity; however, on any given day some children are likely to be
absent. Most of the existing centers have waiting lists, especially for
children of 4 to 6 years of age. A few vacancies exist for 2-year-olds;
this bears out other indications that mothers of children so young
make every effort to care for them at home. The central office of the
Community Chest centers can place only about one in five of the new
requests for care that are received daily. The commercial centers also
have waiting lists, though they try to accommodate as many children
as possible. In Dallas County outside the city, there appear to be no
centers sponsored by the Community Chest and few commercial cen­
ters. However, Grand Prairie, one of the rapidly growing areas, has
three commercial centers handling 70 children.
School services.—The Dallas area has not developed a program of
extended school service. Because of overcrowding, the public-school
facilities cannot be utilized for this purpose. The Dallas public-school
population is increasing at the rate of 5,000-6,000 a year, and about
300-400 children are on a double shift. Many communities in the
county have also had double school schedules for years. Further,
parents cannot count on the schools for any kind of early morning or
after-school care of children because many of them have to drive 15
miles to work and often have to be at work at 7 a. m.
Evidences of need and future plans.—The evidence appears to be
rather positive that the need of working mothers in Dallas for the
daytime care of their children will not lessen and is likely to increase.
Industries are expanding their permanent plant installations, and the
employment of women continues to grow. A survey made in eight
cities in the spring of 1951 by the Child Welfare League of America
reported a 20-percent increase in applications for day care of Dallas
children over a 5-month period.

78

EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

The current labor market for workers is not tight (except for skilled
workers) and many employers and a section of the public believe
arrangement for child care to be the responsibility of the mother seek­
ing work. Most employers do not list child care as a serious problem
in hiring or turnover of women workers, but they do recognize it as
a factor in absenteeism. Some companies will not hire a mother unless
she has what they consider an adequate plan for child care. The plan
most frequently preferred is to have a relative in the home or nearby
care for young children by specific arrangement. Many employers
feel that commercial or public nurseries do not prevent any great
amount of absenteeism because the health requirements make it neces­
sary for the mother to keep home a child who shows signs of illness.
On the other hand, the existing community agencies can by no
means fully take care of the current demands. One of the large plants
in this section employs 1,400 women and is expanding. The report
that community agencies can meet only one in five of their daily re­
quests for child care has been mentioned. The three commercial oper­
ators in Grand Prairie, who care for a total of 70 children and always
run to capacity, estimate that they turn down at least 15 to 20 calls a
month from parents in desperate need of services. There is no place
to which these calls may be referred.
In connection with care of Negro children, one Negro commercial
operator, highly trained, set up a very nice center for 15 children; she
now has 30 and is under terrific pressure to handle 10 or 15 more,
as the parents are desperate. The pastor of one of the two Negro
churches taking from 200-300 children says that if he had facilities
he could round up another 200-300 still without any care. One sec­
tion of the city with a large Negro population, where most mothers
have to work, has no facilities whatever.
The State department of welfare sees little prospect that the com­
munity will support more public centers. Even should it finance two
or three more in the next few years, as has been hoped, these can do
no more than alleviate the most pressing needs. Therefore, private
facilities will be required for those who can pay for them, and this
calls for an increased number of well-equipped and licensed commer­
cial centers. Dallas working mothers, like working mothers in many
other industrial areas, are continuing to make informal neighborhood
arrangements for child care.
The following plan, which was being developed cooperatively by
the child welfare committee of the Dallas council of social agencies
and some of the operators of commercial homes and centers, merits
special consideration as a method of raising standards of existing child
care and also developing new resources.
The child welfare committee has membership covering such com­
munity agencies as housing, health, public child-care centers, city,

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-5 2

79

State, and private welfare organizations and has representation from
some of the commercial centers. At the request of some of the com­
mercial operators, the committee was developing a 2-day institute
covering such topics as interpretation of child care, adequate stand­
ards, good programming, administrative and operating techniques,
with invitations to be issued to employers, local community leaders,
representatives of labor organizations, and interested citizens. Besides
giving operators of child-care facilities opportunity for contact and
exchange of ideas, the institute had the objective of giving more com­
plete information to community leaders so they will understand the
need for additional child care for working mothers. A further long­
time objective was to develop a permanent organization of commercial
operators who could continue to exchange ideas and knowledge, and
perhaps be the means of attracting other interested and qualified
women into the operation of child-care centers or homes.
WEST COAST STATES
California
California has the metropolitan area third in size in the United
States (Los Angeles) and also the area seventh in size (San FranciscoOakland). Los Angeles and San Diego are two of the seven aircraft
manufacturing centers that employ about half of all aircraft workers
in the United States. Large shipbuilding installations, production of
women’s clothing, shoes, electrical equipment, metal goods, and chemi­
cal supplies are important among the manufacturing industries in
California. The State has large agricultural, canning, and foodsupply industries, and an extensive tourist trade. Besides working in
large numbers in the manufacturing industries, many women are in
the types of occupations that usually employ them, such as trade,
restaurant and other service, and clerical work.
EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN

The Women’s Bureau visited major cities in California in the first
half of 1951 to learn the effects on women workers of the expansions
occurring in defense industries such as metal, aircraft, shipbuilding,
and others. The extent of the child-care provisions was examined at
this time, and opinions of informed persons were sought as to their
sufficiency to meet needs that could be foreseen. Later, a return visit
was made in mid-1952, when further indications were noted as to the
expected growth in industry and opportunities for women’s work.
Manufacturing employment of women in the State was at an all­
time postwar high as early as the fall of 1950. The largest gains
were in industries connected with defense, such as electrical equipment.

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

aircraft, and fabricated metal. Increases continued, and by mid-1952
employment of women in the State was 1,445,000, which exceeded the
World War II peak by 171,000 and was almost double the number of
women reported at work in the State by the Census of 1940. Women
were 31 percent of all the State’s workers. The Labor-Management
Committee for Defense Manpower for the region, in setting forth
a defense manpower program for 1952-53, specifically mentioned
child-care facilities in its plans for cooperation with other agencies
to provide community facilities for workers.
STATE PROVISION FOR CARE OF WORKING MOTHERS’ CHILDREN

California has provided more extensive State-wide extended school
services than any other State. These include services for children
of preschool age and supervision of school-age children after school
hours. The program is supervised by the State department of edu­
cation and operated by local school boards with the aid of State funds.
It has been concentrated in the urban areas, which have two-thirds
of the State’s population, though a number of centers also exist in
rural areas for parents in food production and canning. This provi­
sion was initiated during World War II, and continued by State
appropriations after Federal funds no longer were available. The
most recent authorization extends for a 2-year period following Jan­
uary 1952. Public opinion is strongly of the belief that it should be
made permanent, and this is reinforced by the current expansion in
industry and demands for labor. At the same time opposition was
felt in some areas to the tax funds required for this program.
In February 1951 the State had over 280 centers in 52 school dis­
tricts. Until June 1951 a child was admitted when family income
was less than $225 a month with one parent working, or less than
$275 with both parents employed, and with higher maximums for
additional children in the family. Weekly fees paid by parents were
adjusted on a sliding scale according to family income. Regardless of
income veterans attending school, teachers, registered nurses, and those
harvesting or processing crops in emergency could use centers.
Because of the income ceilings, some parents in areas where defense
industries were expanding had to give up the use of these facilities,
even though other means of care for these children were problematical.
The facilities still had long waiting lists. There was a widespread
opinion that the maximum should be raised, and this was done in the
new act that continued the program for 2 years. Where one parent
worked earning $250, or if both parents worked with combined income
of $300 they could then take advantage of these services for one child,
and the maximums were raised $50 for each additional child. In
servicemen’s families, only the dependency allotment and the wife’s

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81

salary were counted, the serviceman’s salary being exempt. Defense
workers were added to the group exempt from these maximums, but
all those exempt, regardless of income, then had to pay fees covering
the full cost. This was estimated at 37y2 cents an hour for pre­
school, 28y2 cents for school-age children, obviously burdensome on
many incomes; however, districts were allowed to make some
variations.
SAN FRANCISCO

The San Francisco area employed over 295,000 women in 1950, an
increase of more than two-thirds above 1940. (See table 5.) The
proportion of women among all workers also had increased from 26
percent in 1940 to 30 percent in 1950, a growth greater than in most of
the cities visited. The area is reported to have almost 25 in every
100 of the women workers in the State. Employment in nonagrieultural occupations (other than household workers) increased con­
siderably from the fall of 1951 to the fall of 1952. (See table 6.)
Fewer than a fifth of these women were in manufacturing, a consider­
ably smaller proportion than in most other areas visited. Nondurable
industries, of which apparel, food, printing, and chemicals were chief,
employed over 60 percent of the women in manufacturing. The metal,
electrical and other machinery, shipbuilding, and other durable indus­
tries expanding with the defense program employed 17,000 women.
The huge naval installations of World War II were enlarging again;
few of their employees as yet were women, although during the war
a fifth of the workers had been women.
Though many new labor-force demands were for specialized skills,
as for example in metal work, in two spring months of 1952 the demand
for clerical workers increased by a third, for semiskilled workers by
nearly half, and even for the unskilled by a fifth. It was estimated
in the spring that by midsummer of 1952, the area’s industries would
require 10,000 additional women workers, and the employment re­
ported in September 1952 showed the actual increase had been more
than twice this. There was no over-all shortage of women workers,
since over 17,000 women were unemployed and women were 40 percent
of the applicants for jobs at the Employment Service, though only
34 percent of the labor force.
Day-care and school services.—The department of education was
providing 34 child-care centers at the time of the Women’s Bureau
visit in the spring of 1951, and these were filled to capacity. They
had waiting lists of over 2,000 eligible applicants and 5,000 more
desiring service but unable to qualify for admission (this was prior to
raising of the maximum family incomes under which children were
eligible).

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Aside from those operated by educational authorities, licenses had
been granted to 51 child-care facilities, the largest number being small
daytime homes. However, most of these did not have a full day’s
program. Nineteen were private nurseries, including 2 large church
schools enrolling several hundred children; 7 cooperatives open only
2 or 3 hours a day, a type that has increased in the postwar period; 7
commercial nurseries; and 3 nurseries aided by the Community Chest,
which took children of 22 months to iy2 years and had increasing
applications as early as the fall of 1950. Most facilities had waiting
lists.
Evidences of need and future flans.—Continuation of the educa­
tional service program was considered of prime importance by all
the management, school, labor, and welfare authorities interviewed,
both in early 1951 and in mid-1952. They gave unanimous testimony
to the belief that more facilities were needed, even in early 1951 when
industrial growth was very far from the area’s expected maximum.
The most pressing problem in regard to child-care facilities in the
area seemed to be the cost of operation, and suggestions continued to
be made in 1952 that fees to parents be increased and eligibility require­
ments also be further liberalized. Still in many cases parents found
existing fees difficult to meet. It was also thought that additional
building space was required, since schools already are overcrowded.
This need will be intensified if defense industries continue to expand
and do mass hiring.
The increasing demands on the already inadequate private commer­
cial facilities indicate that additions to this type also are needed,
though many of them operate short hours and would not be helpful to
working mothers. Moreover, in the nature of the case most of them
are small and their capacity never would be sufficient to serve the
numbers of children cared for by the school facilities.
LOS ANGELES

Los Angeles employs almost half of the women workers in Cali­
fornia, having over 574,000 at the 1950 census report, an increase of
two-thirds above 1940. (See table 5.) The proportion women con­
stituted of the labor force had increased somewhat, and was 30 percent
in 1950, similar to the urban areas in the country as a whole. The
employment of women in nonagricultural occupations (except in
households) increased notably from 1951 to 1952. (See table 6.) Of
these women somewhat more than a fourth were in manufacturing.
Los Angeles ranks first in the country in six industries—aircraft,
motion pictures, refrigeration equipment and machinery, canned sea­
food, heating and plumbing equipment. It also ranks second in the
country in nine additional industries, which include women’s outer

PROGRAMS IN SELECTED COMMUNITIES, 1951-52

83

apparel, pressed and blown glass, automobile tires and tubes, and
jewelry and silverware. The area has had recent expansions in the
electronic industry, and in the making of scientific instruments, where
a third of the workers were women. Industrial capacity was expand­
ing rapidly, both for defense and civilian needs, at the time of the
Women’s Bureau visit, and 61 new factories were reported in the first
6 months of 1951.
Six plants of 4 major aircraft companies employed nearly 8,500
women in early 1951, constituting about 16 percent of all their workers.
In some of these the great majority of the women were in the plant
offices, but in the largest company (which employed nearly half the
aircraft workers in these plants) two-thirds of the women were on
production jobs. Two of these plants, revisited in May 1952, had
more than five times as many employees as in February 1951, and
the proportion of women in their work force had increased from 16
percent to 19 percent.
School services for children.—The Los Angeles area had 98 child­
care centers operated under public-school auspices at the time of the
Women’s Bureau visit in early 1951. Of these 66 were nursery schools,
26 gave day care, and the remainder combined the two. Most of them
were operating at capacity with waiting lists. They had 11,500 chil­
dren enrolled in January 1951, and 1,100 new applications were re­
ceived in the month February 15 to March 15.
The Women’s Bureau representative visited several of the centers.
One of these was located in a housing project, operated from 6:30
a. m. to 6 p. m. on 5 days a week, and cared for children whose mothers
were employed chiefly in the garment industries. One was in a junior
high school, operated 7 a. m. to 6 p. m., and had children whose
mothers were largely clerical workers. A third occupied a building
erected with Lanham Act funds and adjoining a school; mothers of
the 61 children attending included waitresses, saleswomen, and clerical
workers, many of whom lived in one-room apartments because rentals
were very high in the area. Another center occupied two houses ad­
joining an elementary school; it took very young children, and it
was open 6 days a week from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m. Mothers were chiefly
sales and clerical workers. Children 2 and 3 years old were cared
for in one of the houses, while those 4 and 5 were in the other house
or attended the kindergarten in the adjoining school.
The Los Angeles welfare council has supported the State educa­
tional program for child care rather than operate nurseries under
the Community Chest, though about 15 of the city’s agencies pro­
vided some type of care. Instead, the Community Chest rather has
sponsored development of independent homes licensed by the State
to care for small numbers of children, some of them by day only,

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

others for the full 24 hours. Of course, this type of service cannot
be sufficient to meet any mass need under an expanded defense
program. A number of private nurseries also exist, but they are
expensive.
Evidences of need and future plans.—The need to maintain and
expand the area’s child-care facilities was stressed by all the indus­
trial, labor, educational, and welfare officers with which the Women’s
Bureau agent discussed the subject. These authorities made state­
ments such as that the need for more child-care centers was “evident”
and that the facilities were “already inadequate” and would be even
more so in view of the industrial expansion expected. Concrete evi­
dence to support these views lay in the more than 1,000 additional
applications for child care received in one month early in 1951.
SAN DIEGO

The woman labor force in San Diego had very nearly doubled
in the decade from 1940 to 1950, and included over 55,000 in 1950.
The proportion women constituted of the labor force had not in­
creased, and in 1950 it was 23 percent, much less than in urban areas
in the country as a whole. (See table 5.)
The population of San Diego expanded greatly in 1951 and 1952,
through in-migration resulting from defense increases in industrial
activities. In the spring of 1952 one person in four in the population
was a newcomer within a 2-year period. In mid-1952, when the
Women’s Bureau visited the area, employment was well above that
of the World War II peak. Employment of women in nonagricultural occupations (except household work) increased from the fall of
1951 to the fall of 1952 in a proportion considerably greater than
in most other areas visited. (See table 6). By late 1952 the employ­
ment of women in the area approximated that of the peak period
during the war.
A fourth of these women were in manufacturing. The principal
industries employing women, aside from the usual service and trade
establishments, include a large aircraft plant, repair and assembly
plants, and several making jet engine components and airplane parts.
Together these employed nearly 12,000 women in the fall of 1952.
Among other industries were extensive fish canneries, with women
as two-thirds of the workers, and some clothing factories. The Elev­
enth Naval District, with its various installations, was resuming activ­
ities by 1951, and about a fifth of its employees were women, a third
of them in the naval air station. Special skills that have been in
heavy demand and short supply in the area include those of
nurses, laboratory technicians, and well-qualified stenographers and
secretaries.

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85

Day-care and school services.—The San Diego area had 25 centers
of extended school services under the auspices of the department of
education, with over 950 children enrolled in the late fall of 1952.
This included extended services for school-age children, as well as
nursery schools for those who were younger. Five centers were open
on 6 days a week, the remainder only on 5 days. Care per child aver­
aged 9y2 hours a day. The nursery schools located in the central
part of the city were filled and had waiting lists, though some in
outlying sections were not operating to capacity because not located
conveniently for mothers. It was estimated that a large proportion
of the children in these school centers had mothers who were the only
wage earners in their families.
In the fall of 1952 over 200 licensed homes in San Diego were giving
day care to small numbers of children, and more were in the process
of being licensed. This was in addition to over 500 full-time foster
homes. The number of children cared for was small for each of these
homes, the maximum usually being six, but together they cared for
over 1,860 children.
Twenty-three commercial nurseries in the area, 10 in the city proper,
and 13 in nearby communities were serving over 530 children. Thus,
a total of some 3,350 children had full-time service, through schools
or other licensed agencies, and great pressure continued for additional
services. Besides this, there were 12 part-time private nurseries with
300 children enrolled, but such facilities probably cannot meet the
needs of most working mothers.
Evidences of need and futwe plans.—There were unmistakable
evidences of an acute need for expansion of day-care facilities in the
San Diego area. Even as early as mid-1951 educational authorities
estimated that the extended school program required immediately six
or seven additional buildings. In the early part of 1952 new applica­
tions were coming in at the rate of 50 a day, and by mid-1952 some
5,000 applications had been received over about 10 months’ time.
Many of these children could not be given places, either because of
insufficient facilities or because of the maximum income limitations
explained above.
At the time of the Women’s Bureau visit in mid-1952, it was ex­
pected that the current shortage of child-care facilities would con­
tinue. Even with the removal by the fall of 1952 of some naval
personnel to nearby places because of the shortage of housing and
other facilities in San Diego, only a small proportion of the mothers
needing day care for their children had been affected, and the stream
of additional new applicants continued.
Some of the aircraft companies had requested aid in finding day
care for children of experienced former employees whom they needed

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

to reemploy, but who could not accept jobs unless they could find
satisfactory care for their children. Educational and aircraft-plant
officers were canvassing possibilities for space to be furnished by the
plants, with the educational authorities providing equipment and
personnel for services to children.
To complicate still more the shortage of child-care facilities, three
nursery schools located in the central part of the city, where popula­
tion increases and added child-care demands had been greatest, had
been forced to close early in the fall of 1952 because the facilities had
to be used for first-grade children. At the time of the Women’s
Bureau visit the effort was being made to secure the loan of Navy
Quonset huts, both for replacing the three facilities that must be given
up and for increasing services in areas where nursery schools are most
needed. The necessary equipment would be provided by the board
of education.
Aside from insufficiency of facilities, two further problems beset
the patrons and the managers of the child-care program. One of
these was the sometimes unsatisfactory location of the centers. The
best use can be made of nurseries and school services if located near
the mother’s home or workplace or on transportation routes that
enable employed mothers to leave children and pick them up again
while en route to and from their jobs.
The other problem was that fees often proved burdensome, even
though efforts were made to adjust them to the extent possible.
Defense workers can enter their children without regard to their scale
of earnings, but, regardless of income, they must pay the full cost of
care. For the usual 9- to 9%-hour day this averages $13.30 for a
5-day week or $15.96 for a 6-day week, too high a rate for many
mothers. In some cases costs amounted to more than in some commer­
cial nurseries, though the latter may not always give care comparable
to that of the educational services.
The San Diego area labor-management committee took cognizance
in the spring of 1952 of the serious situation as to day care, and its
attendant problems. The committee emphasized that the defense
production program would be greatly handicapped by curtailment of
the supply of women workers because of lack of child-care facilities.
The committee advocated not only continuation of State financing of
the program of extended school services, but also a reduction in fees
and the still further raising of the maximum income allowable for
families in which only one parent was employed.
While in some respects California communities appear to have ad­
vantage over many areas, San Diego, as well as other California cities,
has not as yet fully met the child-care needs of the large numbers of
working mothers. Some observers believe that with a few adjust­

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87

ments in fees and maximum income four times as many public child­
care services could be utilized. Many parents cannot now afford
the fees.
A further problem is that of transportation of small children to and
from established centers, or of creating new centers in the newer and
frequently outlying residential districts. It is in these areas that many
working mothers live, particularly if they are newer in-migrants to
the community.
Washington
SEATTLE

Seattle was reported by the 1950 census as having an area popula­
tion of between 700,000 and 800,000. Since the census period, defense
industrial acitivities have been expanding in the area, which is a center
for shipbuilding (including Bremerton Navy Yard), extensive man­
ufacture of heavy aircraft, transportation equipment, car and
foundry products, and allied industries such as some aluminum proc­
essing and fabrication, steel, auto assembly, and manufacture of ma­
chine tools. Other important industries are food processing, lumber
and furniture production, and some clothing and textiles.
While most of these are not primarily woman-employing industries,
some of them may need to train and utilize an additional woman labor
force. The city was visited just before mid-1951 and again in mid1952, because of the effect of defense expansion on the employment of
women, most of whom were concentrated in trades and services.
Seattle is an air, shipping, and rail center for foreign and domestic
trade and transportation to Alaska and the Orient, and for year-round
tourist travel. The character of some of the other industries also is
influenced by the fact that it is the gateway to Alaska. For example,
the local clothing and textile plants produce heavy sport and work
clothing suitable for Alaskan wear.
Employment of women.—The labor force in the Seattle area in­
cluded 92,000 women in 1950, an increase of almost 60 percent above
the 1910 number, according to census data. Women were 26 percent
of the labor force in 1940, and in 1950 had increased to 29 percent, a
proportion similar to the 31 percent they constitute in United States
urban areas as a whole. (See table 5.) Nonagricultural employment
of women continued to increase markedly in 1952, though the propor­
tion of women who were in manufacturing was smaller than in most
of the areas visited. In fact almost two-thirds of the women in non­
agricultural occupations (except household employment) were in the
more traditional women’s employment in trade and service industries
where the proportion of women ran as high as 35 percent. (See
table 6.)

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

Of the women in manufacturing about a fifth were in food indus­
tries. Almost 60 percent were in the two major defense industries,
aircraft and shipbuilding, those in the latter being chiefly in the navy
yard in Bremerton. By the summer of 1952 women constituted about
a fifth of the work force of the large aircraft plant in the area. Of
these over half were plant workers, the remainder in the offices. Some
expansion was expected, though these heavy planes are less suited to
women’s work than lighter aircraft. For example, the outer skin
of aluminum is thicker than formerly and requires operations con­
sidered too heavy for women.
_
The naval shipyard began employing women for production jobs
in the late spring of 1951, and by late summer had several hundred on
such work, a few having acquired journeyman status as welders.
Employment had increased in 1952, but personnel offices reported
hundreds of applications on file from women who would work if
they could get jobs, many of them experienced in World War II;
however, men are being recruited from outside the area. Considerably
over half the women employed at the navy yard are office workers.
Reports from the area consider the employment of women relatively
high, and unless an emergency situation should occur new hiring is ex­
pected to be more gradual. The labor market for women in this
area is not tight on an over-all basis. There are women receiving
unemployment compensation, others unemployed, and still others with
previous experience who would enter the labor force again. Wives
of servicemen entering the area have difficulty in getting jobs unless
they have special skills, since employers think they will be temporary.
Further, young women at the University of Washington, with its
approximately 16,000 school population, are available in large num­
bers for part-time jobs.
There is much job shifting in the area, as women move from trade
and services to higher-paying work in the defense industries. For
example, it was estimated that the average work period in the occu­
pation of waitress was in the neighborhood of 6 months. Further­
more, as is often the case in numerous other areas as well, shortages
of women workers with special skills exist, such as nurses, well-quali­
fied stenographers, X-ray and other medical technicians. Lack of
child-care facilities was believed to be one deterrent against securing
women trained in some occupations.
Even though there is no over-all shortage of women workers, as
early as the summer of 1951 the demand exceeded the supply of those
under 35 years of age. Many employers request the younger women
but the chief defense industries that employ women, aircraft and the
navy yard, will take those who are older, especially if experienced
in this work, and consider them more stable. Laundries, various

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89

clothing industries, food processors, and packing houses also con­
sistently employ the women over 35 and think them more stable; many
of the younger women are not attracted by these occupations. Among
the men and women applicants to the Employment Service for busi­
ness and professional jobs in a 1952 summer month, about a fourth
were over 45 years of age.
The average age of women workers in the Seattle area is reported
as about 32 years, while the national average is 37. More than a third
of the women aged 25 to 44 are in the labor force. As an illustration
of the age characteristics in one occupation in the area, waitresses
average 32 years, with a large number in their twenties and few oppor­
tunities for older women in the larger establishments.
While there are no complete area figures as to married women work­
ers or employed mothers, it is estimated that well over half the work­
ing women are married. This fact is especially apparent in the in­
dustries traditionally large employers of women. Nearly all the wait­
resses, largely young women, are or have been married. The same
situation prevails in retail trade. In the needle trades and among
packing-house, laundry, and dry-cleaning workers, the majority of
women also are married, though as a group somewhat older than
waitresses. A similar situation exists in the aircraft industry and
the navy yard, with their acceptance of older, more experienced
women.
Day-care services for children.—In World War II the Seattle
area had 26 nursery schools and 26 day-care centers operated with the
aid of Lanham funds. The community received an award for the best
child-care program in the Nation. A State law authorizes public
school administrators to conduct nursery schools. This program has
had serious ups and downs with State funds cut off July 1, 1948,
restored in the next biennium, and again cut off in mid-1951.
In the spring of 1951, before State funds were withdrawn, nursery
schools had an enrollment of about 200 children, of wThom over a
third were in families where the mother provided the only support,
or where one parent was attendng school or was ill. Almost 100 addi­
tional children were cared for in a Community Chest center for chil­
dren of low-income families.
The nursery schools were open from 7 a. m. to 6 p. m. on 5 days a
week; parents paid $1.50 a day per child and the State $1.25. School
authoi ities estimated in 1952 that to meet the actual cost of the serv­
ices this total of $2.75 per child would have to be raised to $3.75. None
of these schools were adjacent to the large aircraft plant or the ship­
yards, though preference in admission was given to military personnel
and defense workers.
After withdrawal of State funds some of the nursery schools closed

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

at once, others made some plan to continue for a time but finally
closed. One that attempted to continue had free rent and services,
since it was in a housing project. Despite this, the fees necessary to
cover expenses (a flat $12.50 a week) were beyond what patrons felt
they could afford, so enrollment declined and this nursery school
had to close.
Only one nursery school remains, and this is now conducted under
welfare rather than school auspices, though at the time of the Women s
Bureau visit it still remained open to applicants without fixing the
upper income limit of $300 per month required by welfare facilities.
In fact, at that time more than a third of the families patronizing it
had monthly incomes above $300. When closing of this school was
threatened in 1951, mothers were asked what they would do if it
closed. Nearly a fifth of them said they would quit work, but some
of these would have to go on relief. The great majority had no plans,
though a tenth said they would try to find a private nursery or neigh­
bors who would help. A few said they would be forced to put their
children in institutions. This is at a time when more young women
with children are working than ever before, the majority from eco­
nomic necessity. This nursery school accommodates about 70 chil­
dren and besides parents’ fees now receives support from the Com­
munity Chest and the Junior League. Fees range from $2.50 to $12.50,
depending on income. These were determined by case-work investi­
gation, a feature some parents at first objected to, since it had not
been a part of the nursery-school program.
A recent plan of the Community Chest seeks to combine this facility
with the day nursery supported for many years by the Chest, which
serves about 100 children in two branches in different parts of the city,
each with a long waiting list. In this Chest nursery, admission is
limited to those with family income not over $300 a month. Under
the combination plan a board of representatives from each agency
would advise on policy. However, admission to the limited facilities
available would have to be determined on the basis of the most pressing
necessity for care, and the distinguishing feature of the nursery
schools, accessibility to all working mothers, might be lost.
The extent to which care is given on a commercial basis in nurs­
eries and private homes has not been fully ascertained. Welfare au­
thorities responsible for licensing have an arrangement with local
newspapers whereby any person seeking to insert a child-care adver­
tisement will be referred for clearance to the proper agency. It was
estimated that known commercial nurseries and kindergartens were
giving full-day care to more than 600 children. This included at
least 350 in 15 nufseries, those in several full-day kindergartens and
in one small cooperative serving chiefly student-veteran families, over

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91

100 in 3 Chinese or Japanese Baptist or Buddhist facilities, and about
100 in 32 day-care homes. About 200 additional children were enrolled
m half-day kindergartens or nurseries, which, of course, are not as
well adapted as full-time facilities to the needs of most employed
mothers.
Fees in the majority of the commercial nurseries were $2.50 to $3 a
day, though they ran as low as $2.25 and as high as $3.50. Day-care
homes usually charged $2 to $2.50. The Chinese church nursery had a
fee of $6 a month, the Japanese $13 a month.
Although the schools do not offer extended services, the city and
county park board recreation programs for school-age children are
being used by parents for this purpose. They include 26 social and
recreation centers throughout the county, with year-round afternoon
and evening programs, as well as about 65 school and small-park playfields used as long as weather permits, and gymnasiums available
through the winter. Recreation supervisors report extensive use of
these daily by children after school hours, and believe many of these
have parents at work. The staff also notes that in summer larger num­
bers of children bring lunches and remain all day.
Evidences of need and future plans.—If the proportion of married
women workers who have children under 18 can be estimated from the
national figure, some 25,000 of the women workers in Seattle have one
or more children. The known facilities for full-day care can provide
for fewer than 1,000 children and thus appear very far from ade­
quate. The need for expansion rather than curtailment is shown fur­
ther by the fact that existing facilities were filled to capacity and had
waiting lists of children as yet unable to enter. The county welfare
department received at least six calls a day from mothers wanting
information on child-care facilities.
Even though employment expansion to the full World War II level
is not expected, an increased labor force is in prospect, including some
increases among, women. Plans for this take into consideration the
shortage of home accommodations for any great incoming new pop­
ulation, so that it appears that as much as possible of the necessary
labor should be obtained from available resources now in the com­
munity. This means that more married women are likely to be under
pressure to enter the labor force, and that provision of the facilities
to enable them to go to work, including child care, will be necessary.
Both the large aircraft plant and the shipyards sought to have
mothers give assurance that they had adequate care for their children
before being taken on the job. Plant, welfare, school and employ­
ment officials, as well as parents, thought that the child-care situation
was very serious and that further provisions certainly were required.
Reduction of welfare funds had resulted in cuts in the amounts

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EMPLOYED MOTHERS AND CHILD CARE

paid to families under the program for aid to dependent children.
Because of this it became necessary for some of the recipients to enter
the labor market, and the welfare agencies had insufficient personnel
to follow up the families and learn how the children were cared for
while their mothers worked.
In September 1952 a significant development occurred which may
greatly influence the future program in Washington and also indicate
a possible plan of action for other States. The State superintendent
of public instruction called a State planning conference, with admin­
istrators from the State departments of education, welfare, and health,
together with representatives of school and public and private wel­
fare agencies and community leaders from communities where large
numbers of women were working. Those present decided to continue
as a planning group, pool all available information on existing con­
ditions and programs as well as current surveys and plans, and develop
a coordinating State committee to report progress in various areas.

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