Childcare Policy Issues
The care and education of young children is a primary responsibility of parents; however, the wellbeing of children is also an important concern for the whole society. What rights and responsibilities should parents, employers, schools, community groups, and the society have for children? If governments certify that childcare meets basic standards, what should these standards be? Should parents who do not work outside the home receive support for the care they provide for children?
Childcare has become an important business (more than $40 billion is spent annually for child-care in the United States), and a central component of the economic and social goals of many countries. In some countries, such as France and Taiwan, curriculum and standards for the professional preparation of caregivers are established at a national level and childcare is universally available. In other countries, such as the United States and Canada, the responsibility for finding high-quality childcare is primarily a parental responsibility (Brennan 1998; Prochner and Howe 2000). Standards are usually the most rigorous for centerbased care although little formal preparation may be required for family day-care providers, relatives, or caregivers in the child's home.
Childcare has become an accepted part of life for many families in the world and its use is linked with a variety of purposes, national priorities, and policies. However, the lack of adequate funding to meet the demands of the childcare system appears to be a worldwide constant (Feeney 1992). A second universal challenge is to find ways to ensure that children receive high-quality care in all settings and that the care also meets the needs and concerns of family members, employers, caregivers, schools, and society in general (Swaminathan 1998).
See also: ATTACHMENT: PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS; CHILD CUSTODY; CHILDHOOD; COLIC; DISABILITIES; DISCIPLINE; DIVISION OF LABOR; DUAL-EARNER FAMILIES; FAMILY PLANNING; FAMILY POLICY; FATHERHOOD; GAY PARENTS; GRANDPARENTHOOD; HOUSEWORK; INTERGENERATIONAL PROGRAMMING; LESBIAN PARENTS; MOTHERHOOD; RESPITE CARE: CHILD; SINGLE-PARENT FAMILIES; SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS; SPANKING; SUBSTITUTE CAREGIVERS; TIME USE; TRANSITION TO PARENTHOOD; WORK AND FAMILY
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ALICE M. ATKINSON