This study aims to examine the limitations of the currently implemented childcare policies, thereby providing a guideline for the government on its role to achieve its policy goals.
Policies for childcare support aimed to facilitate women’s entry into the workforce and provide an adequate environment for children’s development are essential measures that offer a solution to the problem of insufficient labor due to the ageing Korean society. In this context, the two core components of childcare support policies are the provision of a balanced load of work and housework and a suitable environment for children’s development.
Having recognized its importance, the budget for childcare support rapidly increases every year, but the existing frameworks of the policies for its effective implementation are yet inadequate in reality. Through a careful examination on the currently implemented policies of childcare support, numerous problems have been found in the following three areas; lack of a consistent system of supervision, inappropriate and inefficient policies, and unsuitable directions of policies and unnecessary intervention by the government.
Subsidies for childcare support which take most of the budget for childcare policies and that come in the forms of support for labor costs, differential support for childcare costs and basic subsides showed little consideration for dual income families or working women. Thus, these subsidies turned out to hold minimal marginal effect on the establishment of a balance between work and family. As the bases of policies applied on the field of childcare and education are different in terms of their scope, regulation, and supervision, there is a limit in developing a quality environment for childcare by allowing free competition among childcare facilities.
The role of the government to achieve its policy goals can be organized into three. First, an environment of free competition must be developed among providers of childcare and education service so as to facilitate their development of a quality childcare environment through creative works. Second, a medium-and long-term development plan to support childcare must be set by closely monitoring the quality of service providers, gathering data and evaluating them. Third, childcare subsidies must be set to focus on providing support to working women and the vulnerable social classes, assisting helping them maintain a balance between work and family as well as provide equal opportunities for childcare and education.
In addition, government regulation should be minimized and consumer choices consolidated in order to boost competition between service providers. Competition should be encouraged between childcare facilities, nursery schools and private facilities by abolishing policies that hinder competition such as price ceilings on childcare facilities or limitations of nursery schools. Similarly, childcare subsidies must be provided to consumers through various means including vouchers or tax deductions instead of direct support to the childcare facilities.
On the other hand, a single consistent system of supervision must be built to monitor the services provided and the results of supervision disclosed to prospective consumers. A unified supervising body should work to set up standards and conduct evaluation and authentication according to the type of facilities. This information must be provided so as to facilitate consumers to make decisions based on the authentication of the facilities.
Subsidies to support childcare costs must be set to assist working women and the socially disadvantaged class to help them achieve balance between work and family and provide an equal opportunity for children’s development. For this, a system of support must be implemented that can take into consideration the various factors of consumers, including income bracket or working status of mothers.
The government as a supplier, should basically work to make sure that the market can fulfill its function by fostering a fair competing environment and supervising the qualities of services provided. From a consumer’s prospective, it should focus on providing childcare support for childcare costs of children in the low-income bracket or those under a working mother. Childcare support must be provided according to policy priorities in order to make efficient usage of limited resources, and a reform in the system may be needed in spite of opposition from stakeholders.
영유아 보육, 정부의 역할은?(The role of government in implementing and managing childcare policy)
|Subject Country||South Korea(Asia and Pacific)|
|Subject||Social Development < Social Welfare|
|Holding||KDI; KDI School|