The day care industry is a continuum from personal parental care to large, regulated institutions. Some childminders care for children from several families at the same time, either in their own home (commonly known as "family day care" in Australia) or in a specialized child care facility. Some employers provide nursery provisions for their employees at or near the place of employment. For-profit day care corporations often exist where the market is sufficiently large or there are government subsidies. Research shows that not-for-profits are much more likely to produce the high quality environments in which children thrive." Local governments, often municipalities, may operate non-profit day care centers. For all providers, the largest expense is labor. Local legislation may regulate the operation of daycare centers, affecting staffing requirements. In Canada, the workforce is predominantly female (95%) and low paid, averaging only 60% of average workforce wage. Some jurisdictions require licensing or certification. Legislation may specify details of the physical facilities (washroom, eating, sleeping, lighting levels, etc.).
The benefits of high-quality pre-K and child care are enormous. It is an essential way to close the achievement gap between children of different economic backgrounds and prepare them for kindergarten, primary school, and beyond. Decades of research have also shown that investing in our children at an early age pays social, educational, and economic dividends over the course of a child’s lifetime. Children deserve access to affordable high-quality education that promotes school readiness, regardless of their family situation.
Using part of a family’s total income is a second but equally problematic option for securing child care. In recent years the costs of care have skyrocketed, placing a disproportionate burden on families’ budgets. The fact is, for millions of families across the United States, paying for high-quality private child care is an economic impossibility.
Some companies have improved their child-care policies. Earlier this month, Starbucks SBUX, +2.77% said it would offer 10 subsidized back-up child care days annually to workers, meant to help staffers who find themselves in a jam when care arrangements fall apart. The company is teaming up with Care.com so that workers can pay a dollar an hour for backup care, or $5 for a day’s stay at in-center child care.