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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).


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Other Resources

Giannarelli, L., and Barsimantov, J. (2000). "Childcare Expenses of America's Families." The Urban Institute. Available from http://www.urban.org.

Katz, L. (1999). "International Perspectives on Early Childhood Education: Lessons from My Travels." Early Childhood Research and Practice 1(1). Available from http://www.ecrp.uiuc.edu.

Oberhuemer, P. (2000). "Conceptualizing the Professional Role in Early Childhood Centers: Emerging Profiles in Four European Countries." Early Childhood Research and Practice 2(2). Available at http://www.ecrp.uiuc.edu.


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodChildcare - Why Is Childcare Important?, Available Childcare, Effects Of Childcare, Availability, Cost, And Quality Of Childcare