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Understanding early childhood education and care utilization in Canada: Implications for demand and oversight

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Varmuza, P., Perlman, M., & White, L. A.
Publication Date: 
24 Oct 2019

Excerpted from abstract

This study examined early childhood education and care (ECEC) utilization in Canada, focusing on use of unlicensed home child care (HCC) from an equity perspective. Data from the 2011 cycle of the General Social Survey (GSS) were used. Across Canada, parent responses reveal that 16.6% of children between the age of 12 months and entry to school were in unlicensed HCC. Another 24% of working parents reported having no regular form of non-parental childcare. Families with higher incomes were more likely to report using center-based care. Conversely, lower-income working parents with lower levels of education were more likely to use unlicensed HCC or report using no non-parental care at all. Comparison of parent responses in Ontario, however, where government estimates for the number of licensed and unlicensed HCC spaces are available, revealed that more parents report that their children are in licensed HCC than is possible. The lack of accurate parental reporting calls into question a key assumption of current regulatory systems, which is that parents are informed consumers of ECEC services. Given that many parents misreport the type of HCC their children use, and the equity concerns raised by the overall utilization patterns we found, we argue that governments need to take a more active role in oversight and support of HCC.