Why Is Childcare Important?
The economic structure of society has significantly influenced how families care for their children. Because women are usually the primary caregivers, the nature of their work roles has an important effect on childcare. In some societies, mothers as well as fathers can provide childcare, food, clothing, and shelter for their families through work located in or near the family home. In other situations, men are employed away from home and the daily care of children becomes the primary responsibility of women (Carnoy 2000).
Some women work only before marriage, before children are born, or after children are mature enough to care for themselves. However, for a variety of personal and economic reasons, including single parenthood, many mothers with young children today work outside the home and can no longer fill the traditional responsibilities of home and childcare. Because children's early experiences and relationships with caregivers have a significant influence on their future development and achievements, the quality of their care is an important concern for all.
Societal response to these changes in family structure and roles has varied. Some countries, such as Hungary, Brazil, and Russia, have highly centralized patterns of authority and provide universal support of childcare. In other countries, such as the United States, Britain, and Canada, family and childcare policies and standards are created at state, province, or local levels and child-care is the responsibility of the family. The questions of what the purpose of childcare should be and who it should serve are simple, but the answers are complex and have varied over time and from one culture to another (Cochran 1993).