Benefits of early childhood education and care and the conditions for obtaining them
In the European Union, early childhood education and care (ECEC) has been a growing priority in many Member States. Whereas education has long been high on the policy agenda, early childhood education and care has only started to receive attention more recently. This interest in the early years is inspired by a rapidly expanding body of scientific research in different disciplines that points to substantial economic, social, educational and developmental benefits of participating in high-quality early childhood education and care. These benefits are not limited to the children involved, but... extend to society at large. At the level of the individual, participation in high-quality early childhood education and care is associated with higher earnings, greater educational attainment, improved social integration and better health, among other advantages. Moreover, for parents, it is found to encourage labour market participation, especially of mothers, in addition to educational and other impacts. At the societal level, there are ample potential benefits as well, ranging from reduced spending on welfare and lower crime rates to higher tax revenues and improved social cohesion. In other words, the benefits are both widespread and long-lasting.