ECEC Policy in Other Countries
Early Childhood Education services have become nearly universal for older preschool children in many countries over the last twenty years. Most European countries now regard early childhood education and care as an essential part of preparation of children for public school, an important component of the supports to families with employed parents, and as a venue for identifying children and families who will need special services. There is wide variation in policy toward ECEC for children less than three years of age, but full-day care with a developmental purpose is practically a norm in most of these countries for children of three and over. The OECD report on Early Childhood Education and Care systems summarized the variation across child age levels in this way: “A pattern of coverage is seemingly emerging across the industrialized countries: a coverage rate ranging from 20-30% in year 1-2, and reaching over 80% coverage in full-time places, some time in the fourth year.” (OECD, 2001, p. 148)
Australia and the United States maintain policies which are much less supportive of early childhood education and care. The United Kingdom and Canada (Quebec, particularly) have moved strongly to expand ECEC coverage in recent years. Table 1 on the next pages gives a thumbnail sketch of key ECEC policies across a wide variety of countries for which data is available. Further details to supplement Table 1 are provided in Tables 2 through 5 in the Appendix. The notes below provide a brief overview of some of the main lines of ECEC policy in these countries.
View a table showing the International ECEC policies (PDF)