Child Care: Who Should Provide?

Labour Relations

With the increase in two earner and single parent families, the availability of good child care services has become a political, economic and social issue. Several elements are important when examining the provisions of child care: the provision of spaces, financing, quality, and responsibility for day-to-day operation. This article explores the four models of child care: the government model, the employer model, the mixed model, and the parent model.

Under the first model, the government is the total provider, responsible for all elements of child care. Under the employer model, the provision of spaces and financing are the employer’s responsibility while quality is that of the provincial government and day-to-day operation is that of a private organization. Under the mixed model, the quality is again the responsibility of the government and the operation that of a private organization; the parent, however, is responsible for finding spaces while financing is shared in some way by the three actors — government, employer, parent. The final model — the parent model — most closely resembles the current system under which the parent is responsible for finding spaces and for financing with assistance through tax credits, the government is responsible for quality, and most of the day-to-day running of facilities is done privately. Although there are many benefits to the employer model — reduced absenteeism and tardiness, parental access to good quality child care, convenient location, feelings of security — the costs are prohibitive for many employers. In the final analysis, the government model provides the most benefits to the most people.

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