Access Matters but so Does Quality

GirlThe quest to meet the demand for child care sometimes leads to short cuts. An overreliance on the private sector to create programs also creates market competition along with service overlaps, gaps and failures. The public interest is not aided by funding the growth of private operators who then choose where, how and whom to serve. Public investments are lost when commercial programs close, taking their publicly-financed assets with them. Family child care is often seen as a fast and less expensive way to expand services. But few jurisdictions require family caregivers to hold ECE qualifications, and home-based childcare does not build an early childhood service infrastructure.

When caregivers leave the business, not only the service but the public start-up and support costs leave as well. Most critically, children do not appear to receive the same benefits from private care. One Québec study found little to no advantage in school readiness for children who attend private centres or family daycare homes compared to children attending non-profit and publicly-operated early childhood centres. Family and commercial care may offer a benefit to parents by supporting workforce participation, but they do not seem to deliver the same school readiness advantages to children.This leaves society recouping only a portion of its early childhood investments. (Institut de la statistique du Québec (2013). Québec Survey of Child Development in Kindergarten 2012. Retrieved from http://www.stat.gouv.qc.ca/statistiques/sante/enfants-ados/developpement-enfants-maternelle_an.html.)

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