In the last 10 years governments in England and the Netherlands have vigorously encouraged the growth of childcare markets but the very concept of a childcare market is problematic, contend Eva Lloyd and Helen Penn.
In childcare, England and the Netherlands have employed similar policy instruments: demand-side subsidies in the form of tax credits for parents using childcare and supply-side funding targeted at socially disadvantaged children and/or areas (Penn 2007,Noailly and Visser 2009). Both countries also introduced legislation specifically promoting childcare markets, the Dutch 2005 Wet op de Kinderopvang and the 2006 Childcare Act in England. This article, based on a comparative study of early education and childcare policy and provision in England and the Netherlands carried out in 2009, highlights some of the shortcomings of these policies. In highlighting two dissimilar European nations with similar childcare market policies that are equally problematic, the study strengthens the evidence that there are problems associated with childcare markets per se.