High-quality Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) can be an important factor in the development and later education outcomes of children. Below, EPIC outlines recent developments in ECEC provision across Europe.
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Plans for a Recommendation on a quality framework for ECEC
Plans have been announced for the preparation of a Council Recommendation on a quality framework for Early Childhood Education and Care. The Recommendation would offer action statements and good practices on offering quality ECEC, and also call for a European benchmark of ECEC places for at least 95% of children between 3 years of age and the mandatory school age.
A Roadmap towards the Recommendation has been drafted, to which stakeholders were asked to provide feedback.
New reports on quality in ECEC
A new systematic literature review about continuous professional development and ECEC quality has been published by an international research team as part of a larger study for the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). The review covered existing research on the impact of CPD initiatives in all EU Member State languages.
The review found that long-term CPD interventions integrated with regular practice were effective both in countries with high- and low- quality ECEC provision, while initiatives judged to be most effective were those which were based on the ‘active engagement of practitioners and on peer exchanges within a shared scientific framework’.
The OECD has recently published Engaging Young Children: Lessons from Research about Quality in Early Childhood Education and Care as part of its series of Starting Strong reports, which aim to provide policymakers and stakeholders with information and research relating to the design and improvement of ECEC systems. The report is based on a cross–country literature review and a meta-analysis of the relationship between aspects of ECEC provision and child development and learning.
The OECD is also in the process of developing the OECD Starting Strong Teaching and Learning International Survey, a survey of childcare provision that will support a comparison of the features of ECEC services in OECD countries, including professional development practices available to staff. The main survey will be launched in 2018 and the first results will be available in 2020.
Updated EPIC country profiles show ECEC developments across Europe
The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) country profiles detail recent and planned initiatives in child and family policy in Member States, including related to ECEC. Recent initiatives include:
- Since 2018 the Czech Republic has provided guaranteed childcare places to all children aged 3 and above, which will be extended to children aged 2 by 2020.
- In the United Kingdom an extra 15 hours of free childcare was offered to working parents of children aged 3 and 4 in September 2017, on top of the existing allocation of 15 hours.
- In 2015 Hungary introduced compulsory kindergarten for children aged 3 or above to improve equal opportunities among children.
- Germany aims to have 100 000 more childcare places available by 2020 to reduce inequality and allow single mothers to return to work.
Two EPIC policy briefs released in 2016 also cover topics relating to the quality and outcomes of ECEC:
- Quality and Impact of Centre-based Early Childhood Education and Care reviews the broad range of indicators that have been linked to ECEC quality, with a focus on understanding how these indicators relate to quality and eventual child outcomes later in life.
- Early Childhood Education and Care and Long-Term Effects on the Educational and Labour Market Outcomes reviews the available evidence on the short and long term outcomes of ECEC within the European context and explores how existing differences between EU countries in ECEC implementation relate to outcomes.