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Outsourcing Childcare

52 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2012  

Meredith Johnson Harbach

University of Richmond School of Law

Date Written: March 16, 2012


Existing discourse on childcare choice proceeds as if there were one right answer to the question of who should care for children. The law takes sides, too. But the reality is that parents, like businesses, make diverse, strategic decisions about which work to perform in-house, and when to collaborate with outside partners. This article uses the lens of business outsourcing to gain fresh perspective on childcare decision making, and the law’s relationship to it.

The outsourcing framework provides three key insights. First, it enables us to better understand the diversity of childcare decisions and the reasons underlying them. Second, the outsourcing model rejects a one-size-fits-all approach to childcare, and instead respects and values a diversity of approaches. Third, the normative value in this diversity suggests a particular role for the law in interacting with childcare choices. The law should accommodate and support a variety of choices, rather than take position on the substantive content of those choices. Using this benchmark, this article critically surveys existing law impacting childcare decisions, and explores how it might evolve to better support the personal choices of families making these decisions.

Keywords: outsourcing, childcare, Mommy Wars, Feminist Legal Theory, core competencies, business

Suggested Citation

Harbach, Meredith Johnson, Outsourcing Childcare (March 16, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Meredith Johnson Harbach (Contact Author)

University of Richmond School of Law ( email )

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA 23173
United States
(804) 287-6688 (Phone)

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