Dissertation Abstracts

Accessibility and Inclusiveness of Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe: A Cross-country Comparative Approach

Author: Unver, Ozgun , ozgun.unver@kuleuven.be
Department: Faculty of Educational Sciences
University: University of Leuven, Belgium
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ides Nicaise
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Areas of Research: Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy , Education , Childhood


Welfare states can adopt various combinations of policies to make early childhood education and care (ECEC) more accessible for families, and the way ECEC services are organised plays a major role in fostering access. Located in the nexus of education, women’s employment and family policies, the ECEC systems reflect different dimensions of national welfare state regimes. They also make up an important component of the recent social investment strategies. Thus, we expect the broader welfare system in any country to determine the institutional setting of ECEC in that country, which in return would affect the perception of families living in that country regarding the accessibility and inclusiveness of ECEC services. This will be the framework on which we will base this PhD project.

The aim of this research is to investigate (1) the link between the general welfare characteristics and the institutional setting of early education and child care, and (2) the link between the institutional setting and the accessibility and inclusiveness of ECEC services as perceived by households. More specifically, we investigate the impact of characteristics of national welfare systems on how ECEC is organised and how this institutional setting affects the way people perceive these services as accessible or inclusive. Hence, the institutional setting of ECEC is the mediator between the systemic characteristics and individual outcomes.

Our research will be mainly based on quantitative analyses. We use multiple regression analysis to set the scene and investigate the effect of general welfare characteristics on the institutional setting of ECEC at country level; next, we use multilevel modelling for a cross-country comparative analysis of perceptions and outcomes at household level. We will also support our findings with the results from qualitative research in seven countries regarding the experiences of disadvantaged families in Europe. The novelty of this research is in examining the impact of the wider institutional setting of ECEC system on the actual use and the perceived accessibility of these services. We expect the results of this study to help policy-makers in fostering equitable access to ECEC, especially among disadvantaged families.

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