Commercial child care doesn't work: If they won’t listen to the experts, maybe they’ll listen to the accountants

Nov 23, 2012

Commissioned by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, the Dragomir Report assesses the viability of for-profit child care in Canada.

The report, Can Child Care Thrive in a Speculative Investment Environment?, looks at a very important social policy issue for our country. As Hans Rollman asks in his article in The Independent, "Does childcare work – achieve positive results for our children and our society – when operated commercially by the private sector according to free market principles?"

The report provides a strong answer to this question, supporting the position of child care advocates across the country: no.

The following is taken from Rollman's excellent article.

And that, according to Dragomir, and according to childcare researchers and advocates across the country – is simply not sustainable. Essentially, it’s transferring millions of dollars to private business owners; millions which could be much better spent building a no-fee public system (or a virtually no-fee public system, such as the overwhelmingly popular $5-a-day childcare system Quebec introduced in the 1990s. Even at its current $7-a-day level, it’s far more accessible than anything in the rest of the country).

The only way to make a profit off childcare, the report explains, is by doing one of two things: cram more children into smaller spaces with less supervision and access to learning activities, or increase fees to parents. The first option hits hard on the children, and results in a more dangerous and reduced learning environment. Not what we want for our children, is it? That’s why government regulates childcare so closely – thus preventing the sorts of cost-cutting, profit-making initiatives that might be used at Wal-Mart. The second option – higher fees – hurts parents. But more broadly, it hurts all of us. When fees go up, that means government comes under pressure to boost subsidies and help parents with the fees – and it usually does. So government winds up spending more money – which has to be diverted from other programs, like health care or education or any of a number of other already underfunded programs – not because there’s a legitimate need for more money to continue to provide the service, but simply because the private operators want to be able to make a larger profit.


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