Childcare systems in France put great value into childcare providers having received a certain level of formal education in order to properly care for children. They have two separate branches of early childhood childcare. These two branches are called crèche and école maternelle. Crèche is the program for infants and toddlers and école maternelle is part of the education system. They both require teachers to have a college degree with an occasional specialized degree on top of that.
For all providers, the largest expense is labor. In a 1999 Canadian survey of formal child care centers, labor accounted for 63% of costs and the industry had an average profit of 5.3%. Given the labor-intensive nature of the industry, it is not surprising that the same survey showed little economies of scale between larger and smaller operators.
Most families currently have three options for securing child care. First, parents can stay at home and care for their children themselves. But this is increasingly difficult, as most families now rely on two breadwinners to stay above water. Moreover, mothers are more likely than fathers to take time away from paid work to care for a child, which can exacerbate mothers’ lifetime earnings gap. Second, parents can pay for child care out of pocket. But this approach is very costly for families, eating up 35.9 percent of a low-income family’s monthly budget. The third option for families is to use federal- or state-funded child care, but access to any publicly funded program, let alone a high-quality program, is very limited. Nationwide, nearly three in four children are not enrolled in a federal or state-funded pre-K program.
A care-penalty is the price one pays for doing care work for a family member. Care giving demands a lot out of an individual, and as a result there is a high opportunity cost. The opportunity cost can relate to both time and money. Instead of taking care of a family member, a caregiver could spend time working or performing more leisure activities. Care penalties are not strictly related to childcare- they can also refer to taking care of a sick family member, babysitting a younger sibling, or taking an elderly family member on errands such as grocery shopping or doctor's appointments.
Preschool education (Frühpädagogik) is increasingly seen as an integral part of education as a whole; several states such as Bavaria have released detailed educational plans for daycare carriers who claim state subsidies. "Early pedagogics" has increasingly moved into the academic domain, with an increasing number of staff being trained at universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen) and regular universities. Non-academic personnel in daycare facilities have usually attended specialized schools for several years. In the state of Bavaria for example, daycare assistants (Kinderpfleger) will have attended school for two years, daycare teachers (Erzieher) for three years with an additional two-year internship.
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.