Front Matter

Providing early education and care (ECEC) which is both equitable and high quality is a challenge all governments are confronting. This comparative volume seeks both to broaden and to deepen our understanding of policies in operation in different countries. It asks how successfully policies in eight different countries ensure that all children, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, can access high quality ECEC. The countries included are Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the UK and the US. Each chapter is written by academic experts from the country in question, and contains empirical evidence on access to services by children from different backgrounds, alongside careful analysis and discussion of how services are organised, including the operation of funding and regulation mechanisms. A concluding chapter pulls together potential policy lessons from across the eight countries, highlighting common policy challenges, and, where possible, identifying policies that have proved effective in particular countries. The book recognises the very different cultural and institutional inheritance which has shaped services in each country, and the idea is not one of “fast policy transfer” but rather one of “contextualised policy learning” (Mahon, 2007), in which attention is given to how policies work on the ground and to the contexts in which they are embedded.

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