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Childcare - Why Is Childcare Important?, Available Childcare, Effects Of Childcare, Availability, Cost, And Quality Of Childcare

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & Parenthood

Broadly defined, the term childcare includes all types of education and care provided for young children. The term is also used more specifically for the supplemental care of children from birth to age eight years by persons other than parents. Childcare is used for a variety of reasons, and programs vary by the number and age of children, the reason care is used, the preparation and status of caregivers, and the location of the care. Terminology varies in different countries although there may be similar concerns of low pay and status, and insufficient training for teachers (Katz 1999; Woodill, Bernhard, and Prochner 1992).

The two major purposes of early childhood programs are care and education. A majority of families today use childcare while they are employed or engaged in other activities. Many programs include an educational component, based on agrowing body of research that documents the importance of children's early experiences for their healthy development and academic success. A large number of programs have originated through concern for children living in poverty and who may be at risk for success in school and later life. Programs may also include a parent component designed to educate parents through their participation in children's activities. In some countries, such as the People's Republic of China, programs are used to instill societal values in young children such as working together in a collective tradition. The childcare used for short-term activities such as shopping, appointments, and leisure activities has been less well studied (Cochran 1993; Feeney 1992).


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