Date: Fri, 13 Jun 97 10:54:59 CDT
From: MichaelP <>
Subject: France Leads Way with Childcare
Isn't governmental provision of child care centers destructive of family values?

France shows way with childcare

By Alexandra Fean, Social Affairs Correspondent, London Times, 13 June 1997

ONLY 41 per cent of single mothers in Britain are employed, compared with 82 per cent in France, 87 per cent in Japan and 70 per cent in Sweden. In Europe, only Germany, The Netherlands and Ireland have lower employment rates.

Unlike many other countries, Britain has little statutory childcare provision and no subsidy, tax allowance or benefit to help mothers with childcare. The limited number of public childcare places available are for children deemed to be at risk. While the public education system provides places for more than half the children aged three to five, the opening hours are limited and do not allow lone mothers to work full-time.

In France childcare is free and there is a long and accepted tradition of early childhood education in the public sector. The State makes universal educational provision for children aged three to school-entry age at ecoles maternelles. These state-funded institutions are an acepted way of life for children and 35 per cent of 3 to 6-year olds attend. In recent years, two-year-olds have been admitted and the handful of ecoles maternelles that are run privately receive state subsidies.

Other services for children under three also receive state subsidies. They include nurseries and day-care centres also funded by local and regional authorities and by means-tested parental fees.

For schoolchildren up to 17 years there are recreation centres that provide care from 8am to 6pm or 7pm. These come under the Ministry for Youth and Sport at a local level and are sometimes subsidised by private companies.

In Sweden, public funds meet the costs of day care for 72 per cent of three to six-year-olds. In The Netherlands, the Government pays a third of the childcare bill, with parents and employers meeting the rest.