Access without quality is of little merit...services have to be high quality, and go beyond labour market considerations to consider children's and their families' wellbeing both in the present and the future
The issue of access to childcare has been discussed at European level since the creation of the Barcelona targets in 2002, when the Barcelona European Council established that by 2010 Member States should supply full-day places in formal childcare arrangements to at least 90% of children aged between 3 years and compulsory school age, and to at least 33% of children under 3 years.
The main idea of targets, alongside other measures concerning parental leave policies, flexible workplace arrangements, and sharing family obligations between men and women, was to help parents with young children - particularly women - reconcile work and family life. Although they triggered important measures in Member States to create more childcare places, progress has been uneven.
Moreover, it is increasingly clear that access without quality is of little merit. This was a key message to emerge from a research symposium organised by the Comission in 2008. More childcare places are not enough: services have to be high quality, and go beyond labour market considerations to consider children's and their families' wellbeing both in the present and the future.
About Children in Europe:
Children in Eruope is a magazine for everyone working with and for children from 0 - 10 and those interested in children's issues. It is published simultaneously in 15 languages by a network of national magazines. Children in Europe aims to:
- provide a forum for exchange of ideas, practice and information
- explore the relationship between theory and practice
- contribute to the development of policy and practice at European and national levels
- celebrate diversity
- recognise the contribution of the past to the present
- deepen understanding of childhood in Europe - past, present and future.
Children in Europe: Empowering children, parents and the workforce? The competency debate (Issue 21, September 2011)
Quality in early learning and child care services: Papers from the European Commission Childcare Network (Childcare Resource and Research Unit, October 2004)