Universal child care needs deeper look

Universal system gives advantage to those families that may not need as much help

Re: Platforms ignore low-cost child care (Our View, April 26)

Your editorial advocates for a provincially funded universal child care system. The idea sounds good, but falls apart when examined more carefully.

The evidence from research actually suggests that for most children, the beneficial effects of early childhood education are extremely short lived. By the time a child is in Grade 3 there is not any cognitive advantage for those that went to preschool versus those that did not.

Furthermore, the longer-term benefits of early childhood education that do exist are concentrated almost entirely among poor children.

This suggests that, rather than universal child care, the government should direct its limited public resources to assistance for poor families. Poor children have significant social disadvantages, so it makes sense that an intensive preschool program would be of benefit to that group.

Proponents of universal child care conveniently ignore any evidence of harm caused by institutionalized child care, including negative social development and various health problems. As a medical microbiologist, I am concerned about the increased likelihood of children in daycare suffering from middle ear and other potentially serious infections. All such evidence should be considered before jumping on the universal child care bandwagon.

Our provincial government is in debt and careless spending on an unnecessary program for middle class and affluent families is not the path to a balanced budget. It only saddles our children and grandchildren with more debt and ultimately compromises the governments ability to help those who need it most.

John Galbraith