Abstract: The past half-century saw dramatic changes in families that altered the daily experiences of many young children. As more mothers of young children entered the labor force, increasing numbers of young children spent substantial hours in various child-care settings. These changes gave rise to a large body of research on the impact of the quality of early child care on children's development. However, a full understanding of the role of the quality of early child care requires consideration of the interplay among child care, family, workplace, and society. This article places what we know about the quality of early child care and children's development in this larger ecological context, and suggests directions for future research and practice.