My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Friday—The closing of child care centers throughout the country certainly is bringing to light the fact that these centers were a real need. Many thought they were purely a war emergency measure. A few of us had an inkling that perhaps they were a need which was constantly with us, but one that we had neglected to face in the past. Now mothers have had the opportunity of going to work and leaving their children in a center where they felt secure. They knew that the children would be properly fed, given supervised recreation and occupation, and medical care if necessary. They were able to work better and they were less exhausted physically.

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I have just received a letter, among many others, from a woman in Philadelphia which typifies the kind of thing a great many people are feeling. To my surprise, also, it seems that a great many women are actually organizing to express their feelings on this subject. This is what my correspondent says:

"I appeal to you to keep the child care centers open. We need them because:

  • "1—Our husbands are not all back from the war as yet.

  • "2—Some of our husbands have been killed and will not return.

  • "3—Those that are coming back will need financial assistance to readjust themselves.

  • "4—Some of our husbands have been crippled and wounded.

  • "5—Some of us have jobs that are important for the welfare of the returning veterans.

  • "6—As future citizens, our children need the best, and only the child care centers can give them the best."

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This is probably tied up with the whole question of married women, with young children, who have to work. None of us will question the fact that it is preferable for mothers with young children to stay home and take care of them, where they cannot afford expert outside help. But we have to face the fact that there are married women with young children who have to go to work. In such cases, it would seem to be in the interests of the community to organize child care centers and see that they are properly run.

These children are future citizens, and if they are neglected in these early years it will hurt not only the children themselves, but the community as a whole. Many communities can carry the expense of such organization for children's centers without any state or federal help. But where state help is needed, it should be given; and when states are incapable of giving sufficient help, it should be forthcoming on a national scale as it has been in the war years.

E. R.