Over the past third of a century, Western welfare states have made policy shifts toward decentralization and privatization, and expected the private non-profit sector to take a larger role in addressing social welfare needs. In the US, welfare policies that focus on employment for the parents of young children, the large number of parents in the workforce, and inadequate child care services in rural communities combine to make the case for innovative child care strategies particularly compelling. This article reports the findings of a project that explored the feasibility of using cooperative models of child care to address the needs of rural communities in California. The project examined relevant literature and identified existing federal and state programs involved with child care for low-income families, as well as relevant funding sources for cooperative development. Interviews were conducted with those involved in low-income housing, early childhood development, welfare-to-work programs, and economic development in rural communities. Interviews also helped identify rural affordable housing developments and rural communities for specific feasibility studies. The findings of the project demonstrate compelling reasons that cooperative models of child care, especially the parent model, can offer effective strategies for expanding needed child care in rural communities.


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