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

The Independent - Newfoundland and Labrador 

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.