Who cares for Europe's children? The short report of the European childcare network

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WHO CARES FOR EUROPE'S CHILDREN? THE SHORT REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN CHILDCARE NETWORK * * * COMMISSION OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not necessarily represent the Commission's official position. This publication is also available in the following language: FR ISBN 92-825-9608-7 Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1989 ISBN 92-825-9607-9 Catalogue number: CB-55-89-738-EN-C © ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels · Luxembourg, 1989 Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in Belgium Commission of the European Communities WHO CARES FOR EUROPE'S CHILDREN? The Short Report of the European ChiLdcare Network by Angela PhiLLips and Peter Moss Document This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not necessarily represent the Commission's official position. Copyright ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussel - Luxembourg, 1989 Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source is acknowledged.

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WHO CARES FOR EUROPE'S CHILDREN?
THE SHORT REPORT OF THE EUROPEAN CHILDCARE NETWORK
*
* *
COMMISSION
OF THE EUROPEAN
COMMUNITIES This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not
necessarily represent the Commission's official position.
This publication is also available in the following language:
FR ISBN 92-825-9608-7
Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication
Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1989
ISBN 92-825-9607-9
Catalogue number: CB-55-89-738-EN-C
© ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussels · Luxembourg, 1989
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the source
is acknowledged.
Printed in Belgium Commission of the European Communities
WHO CARES FOR EUROPE'S CHILDREN?
The Short Report of the European ChiLdcare Network
by Angela PhiLLips and Peter Moss
Document This document has been prepared for use within the Commission. It does not
necessarily represent the Commission's official position.
Copyright ECSC-EEC-EAEC, Brussel - Luxembourg, 1989
Reproduction is authorized, except for commercial purposes, provided the
source is acknowledged. CONTENTS
Page
The Background to the Project 1
PART ONE - written by Angela Phillips
Introduction 2
Childcare, Gender and Equality of Employment 4
Diversity of Need 8
Employment Policies 10
Provision of Childcare Services4
Childcare Workers 25
PART TWO - from the Consolidated Report of the
Childcare Network
Conclusions9
Recommendations of the Childcare
Network of the European Commission 57 - 1 -
THE BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT
Policies on employment and childcare services should go together.
Both are necessary to enable women to participate more fully and
equally in the labour market. These links were made in the European
Commission's First Action Programme on the Promotion of Equal
Opportunities for Women (1982-85). As part of this Programme, the
Commission put forward a Directive on Parental Leave and Leave for
Family Reasons. Thise has not yet been adopted. In its
Second 'Equal Opportunities' Programme (1986-1990), the Commission
commited itself to "propose Recommendations for action in the field of
childcare facilities".
To assist with this work, a group of experts, one from each
Member State, has been brought together to form the EUROPEAN CHILDCARE
NETWORK. The National Representatives on the Network have prepared
National Reports on the childcare situation in their own countries and
have consulted organisations with an interest in childcare and equal
opportunities. These Reports form the basis for the Network's
Consolidated Report, which was sent to the Commission in April 1988.
The National and Consolidated Reports cover the care of children
upto 10. The Network recognises that childcare needs do not end at
that age, but felt it was best to concentrate on children with the
highest level of dependency. The Network has also focused on child­
care for employed parents, even though the Network recognises that
better childcare facilities can also improve the quality of life for
parents not in paid employment and for all children.
The Network has been coordinated, and the Consolidated Report
written, by Peter Moss of the Thomas Coram Research Unit at London
University. The conclusions and recommendations of this Report are
given in full in Part Two of this short report. Part One, which has
been written by Angela Phillips, covers most of the main points and
issues from the rest of the Consolidated Report; however, due to shor­
tage of space, it has been necessary to omit those sections in the
Consolidated Report which describe the history of childcare services
in different countries, the results of the National Representatives'
consultations with organisations, and the recommendations made by
National Representatives. - 2
PART ONE, written by Angela Phillips
INTRODUCTION
"This report is concerned with an issue of the greatest social, econo­
mic and demographic importance - the relationship between childcare,
gender and occupational inequality. Or, put another way, how the costs
of bearing and raising children are currently carried dispropor­
tionately by women and how they might be more equally distributed.
Childcare affects women's employment, whether or not they have
children of their own and throughout their adult lives, even when
their children have grown up." (Peter Moss)
A number of important issues emerge from this report many of
which are taken up again in the conclusions and recommendations at the
end. Probably the most important of them is the question of who
should take responsibility for childcare. At present the respon­
sibility falls mainly on mothers but, the European Commission is just
one of the organisations which has concluded that fathers too should
have a role and that " sharing between parents is an essential part of
strategies to increase equality in the labour market." However respon­
sibility goes beyond that. Society as a whole, via its representatives
in government, has an interest in the care, protection and education
of its future citizens. How should that responsibility be discharged?
Is it a financial responsibility, or merely a question of regulation?
These two questions are closely linked. The cost of caring for
young children is high but it must always be paid. Often it is the
mother herself who pays by forfeiting a wage. Where the bulk of
childcare provision is left to private initiative the mother who goes
out to work may share the cost with the caregiver, who provides a sub­
sidy through her own low wages, and the child, who may also be
shouldering an invisable cost in terms of a low standard of care.
Where there is little, or no public subsidy, childcare tends to be
invisable, often taking place outside the formal economy, where it is
very difficult to monitor or regulate. Where the cost is shared
through public provision of services, grants, taxation policies etc.
not only do women benefit but, as services become visable, they can be
monitored, and their quality improved.
Most countries in the European Community do now accept some
responsibility for childcare. It is the exercise of that respon­
sibility with which this report is mainly concerned. First is the
scope of employment policies. In most countries women still provide
the flexibility required to bridge the gap between parenting and
employment. If that job is to be shared, relèvent employment policies
must be developed which allow parents to continue in employment and
still be available for their children in times of need.
The extent of existing childcare services is another matter of
major importance. Clearly the services must be sufficient to supply
need but that need must be clearly defined. Services which do not, for
example, cover school holidays cannot provide support for employed
women. Different groups of people will also have different needs. For
example, single parents, and parents of children with handicaps may - 3 -
require extra support. Without sufficient services is it possible to
allow for any genuine freedom of choice either in the decision to
take up employment or to choose between types of childcare service?
Quality of service is every bit as important as quantity.
Childcare services should be of benefit to children as well as their
parents and the full range of their needs should be catered for.
Indeed, the provision of childcare is not only a matter for children
of employed parents, but a way of improving the quality of life for
all children. Unfortunately there are no common definitions of
quality, and no common systems for collecting information which would
allow quality to be measured or monitored. This has been a major
constraint which is addressed in the recommendations to the Commission
for future action.

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