Childcare markets in the US: supply and demand, quality and cost, and public policy

Laura Stout Sosinsky

in Childcare markets

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9781847429339
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781447307679 | DOI:
Childcare markets in the US: supply and demand, quality and cost, and public policy

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This chapter addresses the U.S. childcare market in terms of its two-fold functions, to support child development and to support parental labour market participation, and in terms of how well it carries out these functions. The importance of childcare quality for children is discussed, as is research on the production of quality in the U.S. and the costs involved for providers to produce, and for families to access, higher-quality care. Social policies and broader market forces that affect the quality, affordability, and accessibility of childcare from the provider and the parent perspectives are examined. These include regulatory requirements, the mixed for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, subsidy programmes, quality-enhancement incentive programmes, and parent education initiatives. As parents are the consumers of market-based child care, the issue of parent choice of child care is explored, with a focus on the imperfect consumer information available to and used by parents making childcare decisions. Parent childcare choices are also non-linear, complex, and involve much more than an economic transaction; they are made more so by the complexity of the mixed market of childcare provision in the United States.

Keywords: Two-fold market functions; Mixed market; Market forces; Non-linear childcare choices; Quality Rating and Information Systems (QRIS)

Chapter.  8037 words. 

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