Childcare is a critical service that is important to promote Early Childhood Development. Childcare is a service offered to children from birth to their entry into primary school (school age children may also need childcare). Its objectives are to offer quality and safe care, learning and development opportunities during the day while parents are working. Quality childcare can ensure children receive early learning opportunities with peers, responsive care from a childcare provider, safety and security while parents are working, and health and nutrition support.
Many children between the ages of 3 to 5 or 6 can access pre-school. The primary objective of pre-school is to prepare children for primary school by supporting their cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development. Pre-school can serve as a full or partial childcare solution depending on whether it operates for a full or half-day.
Childcare is not only critical for children themselves, but for their parents and caregivers too. Quality affordable childcare means women and men can work and earn a living knowing their young child is learning and developing in a safe environment. When women earn and control their own incomes, more resources tend to be channeled to support their children’s health, education, and overall family welfare. Scaling up families’ access to quality childcare has the potential to unlock pathways out of poverty, build human capital and increase equity.
The childcare crisis, which was felt around the world before the Covid-19 pandemic, but has gotten worse as parents, and especially women, have dropped out of the workforce in order to care for their children while childcare centers and services were and, in many places, still are closed.
So, expanding quality childcare has a multi-generational impact: by promoting equity and improving women’s employment and productivity, child outcomes, family welfare, business productivity, and overall economic development for a country.
This thematic page provides key information for those working on or want to work on childcare.
Childcare can be provided in many different settings and is called different things in different countries.
Home-based care: Broadly speaking, homebased care falls into two types: (i) care by someone in the child’s own home who is sometimes called a nanny or au pair; (ii) childcare provided for a group of children in a caregiver’s home.
Center-based care: Centers providing care for young children are generally called daycares, nurseries, or crèches. Preschools and kinder-gartens can also serve such a childcare function.
Family and other informal arrangements: These are arrangements that put the responsibility for care on a friend or family member. This could include taking the child to work or leaving the child with a neighbor, friend, sibling, grandparent, or other relative. This type of care may or may not be remunerated.
 World Bank, 2019
The Nurturing care framework for early childhood development: A framework for helping children SURVIVE and THRIVE to TRANS- FORM health and human potential builds upon state-of-the art evidence of how child development unfolds and of the effective policies and interventions that can improve early childhood de- velopment.
The Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN) is an alliance of over a hundred organizations and networks and thousands of members.