Child Care: Myths and Realities
Child benefits are not child care – the amounts currently being given to families does not completely subsidize child care. In many cases, it only buys a few days at most. It still doesn’t give most families the ‘choice’ of child care.
It also doesn’t improve worker’s conditions. So long as child care is marketized, there is a tension between child care costs and worker’s wages: if centres start providing decent wages and better working conditions, the costs of care for parents will rise.
We rank 11 out of 34 in GDP per capita. Yet, the government’s 10-year funding for child care leaves Canada in last place of the OECD. This is because the government continues to commit only about 0.3% of Gross Domestic Product to child care — that’s half of the internationally established benchmark of 1% of GDP (a benchmark which is exceeded by many other nations).
This vision includes Indigenous child care centres, partial day preschools, regulated home child care and more, with flexible hours for parents who are shift workers.
Child care costs upwards of $20,000 per year in some cities in Canada. What everyday family can afford to pay an extra $20,000 per child just so their kids can develop in a safe, fun and healthy environment? Blaming individual families rather than questioning the outrageous costs and waiting list of a necessary service such as child care doesn’t do anything to make child care more affordable or of higher quality. All families deserve better!
Numerous studies from different countries and contexts all point to high quality as the key factor leading to positive development in children who use these programs. Low quality services, on the other hand, have been shown to be ineffective or even negative for development.
One such example is the Affordable Child Call for All Plan’s commitment to “to work with Indigenous leaders and communities to operationalize, implement and expand on the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.”
High quality child care recognizes that a child is part of a family, and includes and involves families in child care. It also gives parents the option to go to work and have peace of mind that their children are in good hands.
The real concern is if the child care is affordable, accessible, and of high quality. High quality, publicly-funded child care is positive for children’s development – it’s even proven to reduce family-based risk factors such as poverty. We owe it to all families, especially marginalized ones, to implement a high quality, public child care system in Canada.
Research shows that for-profit operation is a factor that’s consistently linked to poorer quality child care.
This means that across the board, privately-owned centres perform poorer in quality-related indicators such as staff morale, wages, ratio, and professional development compared to nonprofit centres.