See text below.
When it comes to quality, non-profit child care is better for kids than programs run by commercial operators, according to new federally funded research obtained by the Star.
Even when preferential government funding for non-profit programs is considered, the measurable quality is higher by 7 to 15 per cent in non-profit daycares, says the study led by University of Toronto economics professor Gordon Cleveland.
Although he doesn't make any recommendations about government funding, Cleveland said his findings support the spirit of an NDP bill that would direct future federal cash to non-profit care only.
"For those trying to generate the highest possible quality experiences for children at an affordable cost, this non-profit advantage would seem to be very important," he said in an interview.
But as hearings into the NDP's proposed legislation began in Ottawa this week, commercial operators were quick to dismiss the study.
"We don't hold this research in high regard," said Kathy Graham, head of the Association of Daycare Operators of Ontario, who addressed the hearings yesterday. "Of course, we all know that researchers can prove whatever they want."
But Toronto MP Olivia Chow (NDP-Trinity Spadina) said the study is powerful evidence in favour of non-profit care.
Although a recent American study showed no quality difference between commercial and non-profit daycare, Cleveland believes his Canadian research is more credible because it isolated its centres in areas where child care demand is so low that no centres can easily afford to provide high-quality care.
"Non-profit programs alone aren't a magic bullet when it comes to quality," Cleveland said. "But in markets with high demand, it is a clear marker."
- reprinted from the Toronto Star