Four: Equal access to quality care: Lessons from France on providing high-quality and affordable early childhood education and care

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This chapter examines the extent to which disadvantaged children are able to access high quality early childhood education and care in France. France is a leader in the ECEC arena, but while it has achieved universal preschool provision for children age three and up in high-quality école maternelles, it faces challenges in the supply of care for children under the age of three. There is a shortfall of places and participation is strongly graded by social class: children of non-working, low income, or low educated parents are less likely to participate and less likely to attend a crèche (childcare centre). The supply concerns have led to recent policy efforts to expand the number of places available, even if this means potentially reducing quality (by for example permitting lower staff qualifications and increased child/staff ratios).

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