This article provides a review and critical examination of ways in which the stratifications operating in U S. society have pervaded early childhood care and education and related social programs and policies. After a brief discussion of economic and social stratification, as reflected in child and family poverty rates and patterns, highlights from the history of multitiered early childhood programs in the Unites States are provided. Particular attention is given to African American education issues, child care in the early 20th century, and Head Start, in the context of renewed national attention and recent reports. Related social and educational policy issues are discussed, emphasizing future directions of child and family advocacy.
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