The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies

at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

Section 1.2: Early Childhood Education and Care

Service: Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is a service for children under compulsory school age involving elements of both physical care and education (socialization as well as cognitive stimulation). ECEC services may be publicly funded and delivered, publicly funded and privately delivered, or privately funded and delivered, and tend to be heavily subsidized by government in most countries.

Purpose: Current programs evolved out of multiple streams including such purposes as: child protection, early childhood education, helping children with special needs, facilitating mothers' labor force participation, and enhancing children's development.

History: These programs began more than a century ago as a service linked with private charity and child protection and evolved as a public responsibility largely after World War II. The major expansions in these programs dates from the 1970s.

 

Eligibility, coverage, funding, policy-making authority, delivery strategies, curricula, etc: The ECEC programs include a wide range of part-day and full-day programs under education, health, and social welfare auspices, funded and delivered in a variety of ways in both the public and private sectors. The major cross-national differences have to do with such variables as: the locus of policy-making authority (national or local); administrative auspice (education, health, social welfare or a combination); scale of coverage; age group served (infants and toddlers; preschoolers; primary school-aged); other eligibility criteria (poor; with working parents); funding strategies (government, employer, parents fees; combination); delivery strategies (supply or demand); locus of care (pre-primary school; center; home; in-own-home), primary caregiver (professional; paraprofessional; parent); and program philosophy, as relevant.

 

The following tables are available to view and print in pdf format.

See country specific profiles in the Countries section for description of early childhood programs in other countries.

Useful Links

UNESCO has recently launched a website Supporting Early Childhood Policy Development to assist Member States in developing integrated early childhood policies and systems that provide all children including those in disadvantaged areas with equal opportunities to learn and develop from the beginning of their lives.

See OECD's recent 12 country review of early childhood education and care programs and policies titled Starting Strong: Early Childhood Education and Care . The Comparative Report is supported by background reports providing an overview of the country and its ecec policies, and country notes that provide insight into ecec policy challenges in each country.

Readers interested in a fuller description of the preprimary education programs of the European Union member countries, the additional Free Trade Association/European Economic Area (EFTA/EEA) nations, and the Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC) should click here for European Commission 2000 reports. This report includes information on preprimary education provision, participation, attendance, curriculum, and financing. http://www.eurydice.org/Documents/Key_Data/En/FrameSet.htm. Individual, updated summaries on each nation's preprimary system are also available.

 

References

John Bennett, "Goals, Curricula and Quality Monitoring in Early Childhood Systems" in Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives, edited by Sheila B. Kamerman (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001).

Jonathan Bradshaw, John Ditch, Hilary Holmes and Peter Whiteford, Support for Children: a Comparison of Arrangements in Fifteen Countries, Department of Social Security, Research Report No. 21 (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1993).

Moncreiff Cochran, International Handbook of Child Care Policies and Programs (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Co., 1993).

European Community (EC) Child Care Network, A Review of Services for Young Children in the European Union, 1990-1995 (Brussels: Commission on the European Communities, 1996.

Jody Heymann et al. (2004). The Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally? Cambridge, MA: The Project on Global Working Families, Harvard School of Public Health.

Alfred J. Kahn and Sheila B. Kamerman, Social Policy and the Under-3s: Six Country Case Studies (New York: Cross National Studies Research Program, Columbia University School of Social Work, 1994).

Sheila B. Kamerman, editor. Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001).

Sheila B. Kamerman, "Early Childhood Education and Care: An Overview of Developments in the OECD Countries," in Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives, edited by Sheila B. Kamerman (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001). pp. 7-29.

Sheila B. Kamerman and Alfred J. Kahn, eds., Child Care, Parental Leave, and the Under-3s: Policy Innovation in Europe (New York: Auburn House, 1991).

Sheila B. Kamerman, "Early Childhood Education and Care: An International Perspective," Testimony prepared for the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. March 27, 2001.

Marcia K. Meyers and Janet Gornick, "Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC): Cross-National Variation in Service Organization and Financing" in Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives, edited by Sheila B. Kamerman (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001).

Peter Moss, "Workforce Issues in Early Childhood Education and Care" in in Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives, edited by Sheila B. Kamerman (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001).

Michelle Neuman, "Hand in Hand: Improving the Links Between ECEC and Schools in OECD Countries" in in Early Childhood Education and Care: International Perspectives, edited by Sheila B. Kamerman (New York: Institute for Child and Family Policy, Columbia University, 2001).

Michelle Neuman, editor. Thematic Overview: Early Childhood Education and Care in 12 OECD Countries (Paris: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, 2000, forthcoming). http://www.oecd.org/els/education/ecec/

Last updated September 2005
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