Not only the level of investment but how investments are made will determine the success of ECE service development. Economic analyses find that when programs facilitate the workforce participation of the mothers of young children, working moms return the favour with their income and consumption taxes, a reduced draw on social transfers and enhanced economic growth through consumer spending. It is estimated that changes in maternal labour force participation in Québec attributed to low cost child care generates $1.20 for every public dollar spent on the program. Meanwhile, the federal government gets $0.55 in tax gains and saves on social transfers to Québec families. (Fortin, P., Godbout, L., & St-Cerny, S. (2012). Impact of Québec’s low fee child care program on female labour force participation, domestic income, and government budgets. Research Chair in Taxation and Public Finance. University of Sherbrooke.) These findings leave many questioning why the federal government does not compensate the provinces and territories for what it pockets from their early childhood investments.
While it is promising to see publicly-funded education provide more ECE opportunities for youngsters, the divide between education and child care persists. Child care is left to top and tail the school day and fill in during holidays. This is a poor business model that leaves too many families on wait-lists for child care and creates split-shift, dead end jobs for early childhood educators. When early childhood education is organized so it simultaneously supports children’s development and parents’ labour force participation, it provides its biggest economic benefit, more than paying for itself in both the short and long term. Integrating education and care allows more parents to work, while creating good jobs for educators and enhanced opportunities for children.
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