With numbers of women in the workforce increasing, public provision for care for children below school age has becoming a pressing policy issue. Countries across Europe differ radically in their approach to childcare and two different approaches compete with each other: one focuses on facilitating women's paid work and involvement in the workforce, the other focuses on the educational needs of young children. In this book the differences of approach across Europe are explored from comparative, historical and institutional perspectives. The historical development of child care systems is shown to be fundamental to the forms they take today, and vital in determining how reform can occur.
Early childhood education is a key subject in terms of pedagogical concerns, but the development of childcare or preschool institutions has hardly ever been investigated using the approach used in this book. Focusing on an analysis of factors helping or hindering the development of preschool institutions in different countries, and on comparing path dependencies, and events that disrupt these accepted norms, this book sets out key policymaking issues in this field.