Let's Walk before We Run: Cautionary Advice on Childcare
C.D. Howe Institute [pdf]
August 11, 2006
Ottawa and the provinces should use their spending powers to ensure access to reasonable quality childcare programs for "at risk" children, rather than launch universal childcare, says a Commentary released today by the C.D. Howe Institute.
Childcare programs targeted on disadvantaged families could generate significant benefits, says the paper, Let's Walk before We Run: Cautionary Advice on Childcare, by John Richards, Professor, Public Policy Program, at Simon Fraser University and Matthew Brzozowski, Assistant Professor, Economics, at the University of Western Ontario. While studies show childcare programs benefit children from low-income or single-parent families, who are likely to be disadvantaged in terms of preparation for formal schooling, the net benefits for children from stable, middle-class homes are doubtful, according to the study. Why do "at risk" children clearly benefit? Evidence from US studies suggests that benefits are a function of the gap between the quality of the childcare centre and the home as a learning environment.