Explores the daily lives of family day care providers

Negotiated Care

The Experience of Family Day Care Providers

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Margaret K. Nelson

Weaving together numerous richly detailed interviews and surveys with recent feminist literature on the role of caregiving in womenís lives and investigations of womenís involvement in home-based work, this book explores the daily lives of family day care providers. Margaret K. Nelson uncovers the dilemmas providers face in their relationships with parents who bring children to them, with the children themselves, with the providersí family members, and with representatives of the stateís regulatory system. She links these dilemmas to the contradiction between an increasing demand for personalized, cheap, informal child care services and a public policy that subjects child care providers to public scrutiny while giving them limited material and ideological support.

Nelsonís discussions with day care providers reveal considerable tensions that emerge over issues of control and intimacy. The dual motivation of business and family gives rise to problems, such as how to maintain enough distance from the parents to set limits on hours while providing personal service in a family setting. Family day care providers often enter this occupation as a way to engage in paid work and meet their own child care responsibilities. This book looks at how they manage to negotiate a setting that simultaneously involves money, trust, and caring.

Family day care represents one of the most prevalent sources of child care for working parents. It is an especially common form of care for very young children, yet it remains little studied. In the popular press, stereotypes—many of them negative—prevail. This book substitutes a thorough, detailed examination of this child care setting from a perspective that has generally been ignored-that of the caregiver. While providing useful insights into the role of caregiving in womenís lives and the phenomenon of home-based work, it contributes to the ongoing policy debates about child care.


About the Author(s)

Margaret K. Nelson is Professor in the Department of Sociology-Anthropology and Director of the Women's Studies Program at Middlebury College.

Subject Categories

Women's Studies

In the series

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg.

No longer active.

Women in the Political Economy, edited by Ronnie J. Steinberg, includes books on women and issues of work, family, social movements, politics, feminism, and empowerment. It emphasizes women's roles in society and the social construction of gender and also explores current policy issues like comparable worth, international development, job training, and parental leave.



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