When Congress Passed Childcare for All

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NARRATOR: The Comprehensive Child Development Act was moving through Congress with strong bipartisan support. In addition to child care and preschool, the new program would include after-school care for older children, meals, medical treatment, dental checkups and counseling that would be made available to the poor for free and to everyone else on a sliding scale.

Sid Johnson, Legislative Aide, 1969-1976:

It was locally controlled, it was totally voluntary, limited to children whose parents requested it.

NAR: The Comprehensive Child Development Act was budgeted at 2 billion dollars for the first year, the equivalent of 11.5 billion dollars today. The League of Women Voters, American Home Economics Association, Parent Teacher Association, the National Conference of Catholic Charities, all endorsed the bill, as did the United Methodist Church, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, American Academy of Pediatrics and a legion of others.

Walter Mondale, Former Vice President and U.S. Senator:

There was an overwhelming consensus that this was a sensible, reasonable bill. We were close to getting something that would give young Americans in that situation a better chance.

NAR: In the fall of 1971, the child development bill passed both houses of Congress.

Archival footage, interview with Walter Mondale:
It is, in my opinion, the most single important new public policy needed in America today.

NAR: But to become law, it would need President Nixon’s signature, and opposition forces had reached the White House.