Child care by default or design? An exploration of differences between non-profit and for-profit Canadian child care centres using the You Bet I Care! data sets

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Gillian Doherty, Martha Friendly and Barry Forer
14 Aug 2002
Occasional paper 18


The issue of auspice in child care has been debated in Canada for many years and for several reasons. One reason for this is the consistent research finding that commercial child care centres as a group obtain lower ratings for overall program quality than do non-profit centres. Other reasons include the belief that essential services such as child care should be publicly operated, and concerns about ensuring accountability for the use of public funds if they are flowed to commercial operators. This study explores the issue of auspice from the perspective of program quality.

Using the You Bet I Care! data sets, this study finds that the lower level of quality found in the commercial sector as a whole is not simply a reflection of the non-profit sector's greater access to resources but is related to between-sector differences in organizational structures, behaviours and characteristics. The findings reinforce and amplify previous research that has consistently suggested that child care services operated for-profit are less than likely to deliver the high quality care environments in which young children will thrive. This very much fits with the idea that a market model for child care is less than adequate for giving children the best start in life.

À l'intérieur - un résumé en français.


Summary / Résumé

Chapter 1: The auspice debate

1.1 Introduction
1.2 Fundamental differences between the non-profit and commercial sectors
1.3 What does the research tell us?
1.4 What may explain between-auspice differences?
1.5 How this report is organized

Chapter 2: Goals, methodological issues, and overall approach

2.1 Introduction
2.2 The goals of the study
2.3 Data sources
2.4 The survey and observation instruments
2.5 Methodological issues and how they were addressed
2.6 Limits imposed by the data
2.7 The sample
2.8 Data analyses

Chapter 3: Differences in access to resources

3.1 Introduction
3.2 The methodology used in the present chapter
3.3 The instruments used to measure quality and their scoring
3.4 Findings
3.5 Discussion and conclusions

Chapter 4: Differences in organizational structures

4.1 Introduction
4.2 The methodology used in the present chapter
4.3 The present study's findings related to organizational structure
4.4 The relationship between organizational structure and program quality
4.5 The association between sector organizational structure and quality level
4.6 Discussion
4.7 Conclusion

Chapter 5: Differences in organizational behaviours and characteristics

5.1 Introduction
5.2 The methodology used in the present chapter
5.3 Centre behaviours
5.4 Centre characteristics
5.5 Conclusions

Chapter 6: The interaction between auspice and jurisdiction

6.1 Introduction
6.2 The methodology used in the present chapter
6.3 The instruments used to measure quality
6.4 Findings
6.5 Variations in the context in which centres operate
6.6 The dynamic interplay of auspice and jurisdiction
6.7 Discussion and conclusions

Chapter 7: Implications of the research findings

7.1 Introduction
7.2 The current situation in Canada
7.3 Looking to the future


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