The policy memo offers an overview of what is known about the childcare gap, discusses the various policies that aim to address the childcare gap, and reflects on how future research might build on this knowledge base.
What is the childcare gap?
The childcare gap refers to a period in which families with young children are unable to benefit from well compensated childcare leave or a guaranteed or state-supported place in early childhood education and care (ECEC). As it affects parents’ decision to enter or drop out of the labour market, the childcare gap has direct economic implications.
According to Eurydice’s 2019 edition of Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe, there is wide variation across EU Member States regarding the length of the childcare gap. While some countries, including Denmark, Slovenia and Germany, have no childcare gap, most countries do: including Ireland, which has a gap of up to six years.
The policy memo explores policies that may address the childcare gap, looking particularly at the effectiveness of extending and improving the childcare leave or the ECEC provision available. Our policy memo finds that this constitutes a complex policy area with competing pressures and trade-offs and that there exist in reality multiple childcare gaps, all deserving research and policy attention.
EPIC supports Member States to invest in children
The memo is part of a series of short policy memos focusing on topics relevant to child welfare aimed at policymakers, researchers and practitioners. Previous policy memos have focused on inclusion in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and housing conditions experienced by children across the European Union.
EPIC also publishes a wide range of content focused on supporting child wellbeing. This includes country profiles which provide an overview of measures taken in each Member State to support investment in children, and a collection of innovative and evidence-based practices.