This introductory chapter provides an overview of women's activism for child care in California. The efforts of mothers and educators to save child care in California put them at the center of state and local politics, and their struggle illuminates the nationwide contest after World War II over the contours of the social welfare state. The women conducted letter-writing campaigns, traveled to the capital to lobby their representatives and public officials, and coordinated statewide political action. Meanwhile, the female educators spoke passionately in defense of the program, emphasizing the benefits of education-based care to the children of working mothers and to society at large. Eventually, their political actions and claims for child care played a critical role in the shaping of public debate, the building of the modern welfare state, and the expansion of American democracy.
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