Comparative Analysis of Early Childhood Care and Education in Europe
OnlineFirst published on December 11, 2015
Year: 2015 Vol: 35 Number: 1
In this study, early childhood care and education is discussed within the welfare regime conceptual framework by using data from the European Union. According to the current study, although all ten of the selected countries are members of the European Union and are obliged to fulfill similar social and economic requirements, early childhood care and education is generally shaped by the characteristics of their respective welfare regimes. While the formal early childhood education system is more developed and available in the Scandinavian welfare regimes, it is not possible to speak of a common formal care and educational services especially for the 0-3 age group in the Continental European and South European welfare regimes. It is claimed that even though the countries try to pursue the social and economic objectives of the European Union, they remain dependent on their own welfare regimes in early childhood care and education. Additionally, formal care and educational services, which are important social policy tools for individuals to achieve work-life balance, are discussed for their impacts on children and families. In this regard, childcare and education services have significant positive effects on children’s development, increase in labor force participation, fertility, and social equity. When policy recommendations for early childhood care and education services are considered, two important issues emerge: the number of state funded local childcare centers should be incerased and informality in childcare should be eliminated.