The question of how to provide care for America’s youngest children, and the quality of that care, is among the most vexed for family law. Despite seismic demographic shifts in work and family, childcare law and policy in the United States still operates on the assumption that childcare is the private responsibility of parents and families rather than a state concern. But this private childcare model, based on unrealistic assumptions in liberal theory and buttressed by an ascendant neoliberalism, is inadequate to today’s childcare challenges. This project confronts the inadequacies of the private childcare model. Using Martha Albertson Fineman’s Vulnerability Theory as its frame, this Article argues that the state’s role with regard to childcare should be primary, rather than supplemental or contingent. Recognizing the universal vulnerability of children and families and the potential for high‐quality care to promote resilience, the state has an obligation to provide the care and support necessary to ensure child wellbeing. With the development of a comprehensive, public childcare system, the state can partner with families to ensure that all children have access to quality childcare, and consequently, increased resilience with greater opportunities to develop and thrive.

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