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Childcare markets

Childcare markets: Can they deliver an equitable service?

Eva Lloyd
Helen Penn
Copyright Date: 2012
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  • Book Info
    Childcare markets
    Book Description:

    The viability, quality and sustainability of publicly supported early childhood education and care services is a lively issue in many countries, especially since the rights of the child imply equal access to provision for all young children. But equitable provision within childcare markets is highly problematic, as parents pay for what they can afford and parental income inequalities persist or widen. This highly topical book presents recent, significant research from eight nations where childcare markets are the norm. It also includes research about ‘raw’ and ‘emerging’ childcare markets operating with a minimum of government intervention, mostly in low income countries or post transition economies. Childcare markets compares these childcare marketisation and regulatory processes across the political and economic systems in which they are embedded. Contributions from economists, childcare policy specialists and educationalists address the question of what constraints need to be in place if childcare markets are to deliver an equitable service.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-935-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. v-v)
  4. About the contributors
    (pp. vi-ix)
  5. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Part One: Introduction

    • ONE Childcare markets: an introduction
      (pp. 3-18)
      Eva Lloyd

      The state’s role in the provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services is of particular interest, since such services are closely linked to other social, educational, demographic and economic policy developments. Robust education systems, labour market policies which acknowledge the key contributions of women, family stability and ideas of inclusive citizenship all to an extent hinge on the provision of comprehensive and high quality early childhood education and care. This role requires states to strike a balance between serving the interests of parents and the wider family, of children and of the state itself. But negotiating the intersections...

    • TWO Childcare markets: do they work?
      (pp. 19-42)
      Helen Penn

      This chapter considers the limitations of using the market as a workable model for the organisation and delivery of childcare. It presents a brief overview of the reach of economics as a basis for making decisions about childcare, and describes changes in ideas about the application of market principles to traditional welfare contexts.

      It describes the neoliberal view of the market, in which the role of the state is regarded as minimal, and taxation and regulation are viewed as mainly controversial impositions on business. From this perspective individual choice – including the choice of parents seeking to buy childcare – is paramount;...

    • THREE Future directions for a mature UK childcare market
      (pp. 43-60)
      Philip Blackburn

      Equitable access to childcare in the UK is largely choreographed by a dominant pay-as-you-go private market, which is now categorised as mature in macroeconomic terms. This chapter concentrates on pertinent issues for childcare providers in sustaining their businesses within a changing economic and socioeconomic demand climate post-maturity. Such concerns are unlikely to centre on equity issues, the topic of this volume, but the sustenance of the private childcare market in the future will crucially highlight the incidence of equity for consumers. Gaining an insight into economic factors determining the likely future of this market should be helpful to the analysis...

  7. Part Two: Explorations in childcare markets

    • FOUR Local providers and loyal parents: competition and consumer choice in the Dutch childcare market
      (pp. 63-78)
      Janneke Plantenga

      Throughout Europe, an important policy shift in recent years concerns the introduction of market forces in sectors that have traditionally been organised as a public responsibility. Relevant examples in this respect are the energy market and health insurance (Cutler, 2002; Giulietti et al, 2003). The main reason for the transition of public to private is the assumption that the market will create a more efficient incentive structure, as the market driven approach will increase competition and force suppliers to increase internal efficiency, resulting in lower prices. In addition, the introduction of market forces may lead to a better balance between...

    • FIVE Tinkering with early childhood education and care: early education vouchers in Hong kong
      (pp. 79-96)
      Gail Yuen

      On 11 October 2006, the chief executive of the Hong Kong Government announced the introduction of a voucher scheme which was intended to make affordable and quality early education more accessible to children aged 3 to 6. The announcement sparked heated debate about which children should and which should not be included in the scheme (Yuen, 2007). In the following months, local news switched focus to the confusion over how the scheme was to be operated in the school year 2007–08. As issues relating to the new policy gradually unfolded, the concerns were brought to the attention of the...

    • SIX Markets and childcare provision in New Zealand: towards a fairer alternative
      (pp. 97-114)
      Linda Mitchell

      Early childhood education and care (ECEC) policy designs reflect views about young children, about the roles and responsibilities of parents, community and the state, and about the value and purposes of early childhood education (OECD, 2001, 2006; Rigby et al, 2007). Roles that the state chooses to play have consequences for the nature of early childhood provision and the experiences of children and families. These roles include whether to directly provide ECEC services or allow the market to provide, what standards to set in regulation, and how to deliver funding.

      A useful categorisation of state support, developed by New Zealand’s...

    • SEVEN Publicly available and supported early education and care for all in Norway
      (pp. 115-130)
      Kari Jacobsen and Gerd Vollset

      In this chapter the authors describe the current situation and the recent development of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in Norway, focusing on more recent history. In particular the chapter focuses on the introduction of a legal right to a place from the age of one in 2009 and the change of the financing schemes in 2011 which have supported the Norwegian childcare market. The authors have been working in ministries responsible for kindergartens since the 1970s. The references are mainly publicly available documents. Vollset (2011) describes the development of the Norwegian kindergarten sector as part of...

    • EIGHT Childcare markets in the US: supply and demand, quality and cost, and public policy
      (pp. 131-152)
      Laura Stout Sosinsky

      The dual functions of childcare, as a service to parents to support employment and as a service to children to support child development, are sometimes in conflict in the United States’ market–based system (Edie, 2006; Prentice, 2009). This tension is seen in the manner in which services are structured by private for–profit providers and nonprofit providers and in the public policies that intersect with childcare. Childcare provision and use is also tied to a larger debate in the US about the extent to which childrearing is a private good, benefiting families as private consumers, or a public good,...

    • NINE Canadian ECEC labour shortages: big, costly and solvable
      (pp. 153-172)
      Robert Fairholm and Jerome Davis

      Canada’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector is primarily under the jurisdiction of the provinces and territories. Each jurisdiction has its own distinct set of regulations, programmes and policies. These differences result in a diverse mix of employment settings, training requirements and availability of regulated childcare places. Despite the myriad of approaches there are a number of striking similarities in the ECEC labour market outcomes throughout Canada. The sector faces low pay, high staff turnover and persistent workforce shortages. ECEC workforce shortages are extremely costly given the short– and long– term benefits delivered byqualityECEC. The dynamics of...

    • TEN Raw and emerging childcare markets
      (pp. 173-188)
      Helen Penn

      Childcare markets in high income countries are subject to some kind of external intervention, in the form of regulation, tax credits, subsidies, data collection and monitoring. The chapters in this book describe many such interventions, from weak demand-led interventions to very strong regulatory controls and high supply-led public subsidies. But some childcare markets are ‘raw’ markets, a term that I have coined to describe a situation where there is minimal or no government intervention of any kind. Examples of raw markets are commonly found in low-income countries where there are no curbs or controls on childcare entrepreneurial activities (ADEA, 2004)....

  8. Part Three: Ethics and principles

    • ELEVEN Need markets be the only show in town?
      (pp. 191-208)
      Peter Moss

      This chapter is about what happens when democracy becomes sclerotic and a society falls prey to fundamentalist dogma that claims to have the right answer for everything: in short, when neoliberal capitalism becomes a hegemonic system of thought and practice, with its unswerving belief in the virtues of markets and the private, of competition and inequality, and of calculation and individual choice. But it is not a general account of this phenomenon, rather a study of how it plays out in one small part of the neoliberal world — early childhood education and care (ECEC) in England.

      Nor is this chapter...

    • TWELVE ABC Learning and Australian early education and care: a retrospective ethical audit of a radical experiment
      (pp. 209-226)
      Jennifer Sumsion

      This chapter unfolds in three parts. It commences with the cautionary narrative of ABC Learning, an Australian childcare corporation that became the world’s largest for-profit childcare provider within a few years of its listing on the Australian Stock Exchange. It then revisits findings of an ethical audit (Sumsion, 2006) of ABC Learning’s operations from 2001–05 in light of subsequent developments. The chapter concludes with reflections on some of the many questions prompted by the rise and fall of ABC Learning.

      Some familiarity with the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) context is needed to fully comprehend the enormity...

    • THIRTEEN Childcare markets and government intervention
      (pp. 227-246)
      Gillian Paull

      Childcare is different from other goods and services traded in markets. Its unique set of characteristics raises issues and choices which have been addressed with great diversity across the world. Indeed, the range of issues that has been explored in this book reflects both the multitude of concerns and social objectives as well as the breadth of academic disciplines that have contributed to the discussions presented here.

      To summarise this diversity into a single comparative framework is simply not feasible. Instead, this chapter draws together the economic elements to assess the role of the market in childcare provision and the...

  9. Index
    (pp. 247-254)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 255-255)