A social issues writer (recycling, abortion, etc.) investigates the factors in today's need for day care--divorce, poverty, the changing work force--thoroughly examining its benefits and risks and even citing some child-development experts who have changed their minds in one direction or another. Gay gives a historical overview of model preschools and is up-to-date on corporate day-care, as well as continuing problems (e.g., faculty turnover; licensing dangers); a unique feature is a description of special kinds of care: for children with AIDS, disabled youngsters, homeless children, and young children paired with the elderly. But while the coverage of this ""Issues in Focus"" entry is broad and well balanced, the occasional personal accounts are not enough to make the book more than reportorial grist for the student paper mill. Notes; bibliography; index. Photos not seen.