Recollections of Los Angeles Children's Centers' early days

In the past, the focus of child care has been less on the needs of young children and more on the demands society has placed on adults. Children have always paid the price for social change. In 1910, when the compulsory school law enforced school age children, who had been staying home to care for their younger siblings, back into the classroom, the Los Angeles Unified School District provided day care for the preschoolers. Although the Education Code did not authorize such care, it was mandatory they retain the nurseries in order to keep the older children in school. To avoid legislative problems, students, teachers, nurses and parents were introduced into the nurseries for educative and training experience in child care. During the depression, day care helped boost the income of adults on welfare. In war days, the child care centers (as they were then called) permitted mothers to be employed in defense plants. After the war, child care centers were extended to adjust the economic transition from war to peace time. The movement from nurseries to child care centers was primarily for the benefit of adults. Yet, in the process, our early pioneers who cared for young children understood the principles of child development and family unity; that the child care program was not merely a program of custodial care but an educative function as well. In 1965, the name of Los Angeles Child Care Centers, by legislative amendment, was changed to Children's Centers. The recognition of the early years and the influence of the environment upon the child's development had succeeded in augmenting the original purpose of the child care centers.