Excerpt from News Sheet March 2011 – Community Ownership
Barbara Romeril, Executive Director, Community Child Care
I recently had the opportunity to hear an excellent presentation of powerful evidence of the benefit for children of non-profit ownership of early childhood education and care services.
Gordon Cleveland from the University of Toronto spoke on his research into quality in child care centres in Quebec; he has analysed comprehensive data from a large number of child care centres which was gathered several years after the government reformed the system. The reforms were designed to ensure affordable ‘educational child care’ for all children from birth to 4 years of age, non-compulsory free full day kindergarten for 5 year olds and regulated care before and after school. All child care cost only $5 per day, now increased to $7 per day.
The original intention was for the development of a comprehensive system of non-profit parent run child care services; however in the interim commercial services were also subsidised.
The Quebec Government gathered comprehensive data to measure the effects of these reforms and Gordon’s analysis of this data shows some unexpected results; as a result of the reforms employment of mothers increased dramatically, poverty decreased and birth rates increased. The number of children in care increased as did the number of hours in care. However it appears that the cognitive development of children has not changed much, and it is unclear if it has improved or declined. Behavioural and socio-economic affects are also unclear and some researchers have concluded that they have declined. Perhaps not so surprising is the finding the vulnerable children were found to be less likely than others to be in high quality care.
So while child care in Quebec is very popular with parents there is widespread concern amongst early childhood professionals that quality is inadequate. The current Quebec Government is increasing the share of for-profit care and is more concerned about cost than about quality.
Gordon’s research shows that using objective indicators of quality, the majority of non-profit services are at the upper end of meeting minimum standards and are more likely than for-profit services to demonstrate good quality; the majority of for-profit services are at the lower end of minimum standards and are more likely to be of inadequate standard than good quality. So the current government’s reliance on the for-profit sector to deliver is problematic.
Some of the concerns about quality relate to qualifications of the people working in the child care services; some research shows however that recent participation in professional development contributes more to quality than the pre-service qualifications of the staff. However the largest measurable contribution to quality comes from non-profit status.
Review the study by Professor Gordon Cleveland:
New Evidence about Child Care in Canada, Use Patterns, Affordability and Quality
Published by the Institute for Research on Public Policy in Montreal
Download the March 2011 edition of News Sheet here: