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The politics of childcare

Childcare policy is the government's latest big idea. But Labour's stress on pushing mothers back to work is being questioned

By Katharine Quarmby   November 2003

For the first time in British history, childcare is a big political issue. It has been one of New Labour’s big ideas throughout both its terms. The prime minister has associated himself closely with the project, pledging to end child poverty by 2020 and launching the flagship Sure Start initiative, designed to give disadvantaged children a better start. The 1998 national childcare strategy was based on the belief that high quality childcare would help to educate and socialise young children, and also make it easier for parents, especially mothers, to combine child rearing and paid employment. In addition it was…

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