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Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Child care: An eight-year profile
1994-1995 to 2002-2003
Over the past eight years, the proportion of children in child care has increased significantly. This increase has been accompanied by shifts in the use of different types of care arrangements, according to a new report.
In 2002-2003, 54% of children aged six months to five years were in some form of child care, up from 42% in 1994-1995.
In 2002-2003, three forms of care (daycare centres, care outside the home by a non-relative, and care by a relative either inside or outside the home) each accounted for around 30% of all children in child care. The remaining small proportion consisted of children in care in their own home with a non-relative, such as a nanny, and in other forms of care such as nursery schools or preschools.
Although care outside the home by a non-relative remained one of the most common types of care between 1994-1995 and 2002-2003, there was a substantial decline in its use over the eight-year period.
This was offset by an increase in the use of care by relatives, and an increase in the use of daycare centres.
The report showed that no one form of child care stands out across the country. In fact, child care patterns varied by region, the child's background and some family characteristics.
For example, two provinces (Quebec and Manitoba) accounted for much of the growth in the use of daycare centres over the eight-year period. More than half of the children in care in Quebec, and more than one-quarter in Manitoba, were in a daycare centre in 2002-2003.
The most common type of care for children with two working parents in 2002-2003 was care outside the home by a non-relative. In the case of children with single working parents, daycare centres were most common.
The report, a wide-ranging examination of many aspects of child care, is based on five cycles of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth. The profiled children were aged six months to five years at the time of each interview.
More than half of Canadian children in some form of child care
More than one-half (54%) of Canadian children were in some form of child care in 2002-2003, a rate significantly higher than the 42% reported eight years earlier.
The increase in the child care rate occurred for children from almost all backgrounds, regardless of geographic location, household income, family structure, parental employment status or parental place of birth.
However, there was a reported decline between 2000-2001 and 2002-2003 in the child care rate for children aged 6 to 11 months. The proportion of these children in care fell from 44% to 29% during this two-year period.
This may have been due, in part, to the amendment to the Employment Insurance Act (Bill C-32). It increased the combined maternity, parental and sickness leave from 25 to 50 weeks for new parents whose child was born after December 30, 2000.
As the proportion of children in care increased, there were shifts in the rates of use of certain types of care.
The proportion of children cared for outside the home by a non-relative (the most common form of child care in 1994-1995) fell from 43% to 30% in 2002-2003.
At the same time, the proportion of children cared for by a relative either inside or outside the child's home rose from 22% to nearly 30%. The proportion enrolled in a daycare centre increased from about 20% to 28%.
Child care rates varied from province to province
The proportion of children in some form of child care increased in every province between 1994-1995 and 2002-2003, although the gain in Alberta was small and not statistically significant.
In 2002-2003, child care rates were significantly above the national average of 54% in two provinces — Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
The highest rate was in Quebec, where two-thirds (67%) of all children aged six months to five years were in some form of child care in 2002-2003. The lowest rate was in Alberta where only 43% of children were in child care.
The use of certain types of care arrangements varied from province to province. Most provinces recorded a slight, but not always statistically significant, increase in the use of daycare centres. The biggest gains occurred in Manitoba and Quebec.
In Quebec, 52% of children in child care were enrolled in a daycare centre in 2002-2003, double the proportion of 25% eight years earlier. The proportion of children in a daycare centre in Manitoba nearly doubled, from 14% in 1994-1995 to 27%.
Over the eight-year period, care by a non-relative outside the home became less common in all provinces. Even so, in both Saskatchewan and Ontario it remained the most common type of care for children. In 2002-2003, 54% of children in care in Saskatchewan and 34% in Ontario were cared for outside the home by someone who was not a relative.
Nationally, the proportion of children cared for by a relative in the home rose from 8% in 1994-1995 to 14% in 2002-2003. The proportion of children in British Columbia and Alberta using this type of care almost tripled from 8% to 21% and 6% to 17%, respectively, during the eight-year period.
Type of care varied according to child's demographic background
The use of certain types of care differed with respect to a number of characteristics, including the community in which the child lived, the income level of the child's family and the parental place of birth.
For example, just over one-fifth (22%) of children in care in rural communities were cared for outside the home by a relative in 2002-2003, compared with 16% of children from urban communities.
At the same time, 30% of urban children were enrolled in a daycare centre, compared with 22% of rural children.
In terms of income levels, in 2002-2003, about 40% of children in households at the highest income level were cared for outside the home by a non-relative while 42% of children at the lowest income level were enrolled in a daycare centre.
As for parental place of birth, 26% of children in 2002-2003 whose reporting parent was born outside of Canada were in care inside the home with a relative compared with 12% of children whose parent was born in Canada.
Other aspects: Hours in care and patterns in care over time
This report also examined other aspects of child care including the number of hours children spent in care, and the children's movement from one type of care to another over time.
The report found the average number of hours in care fell from 31 hours per week in 1994-1995 to 29 hours in 2002-2003. Generally, children in daycare centres spent more hours per week in care, while fewer hours per week were spent by children cared for by a relative.
In examining the same group of children over time, the report found that children move in and out of different types of child care as they age. The analysis included parental care as a type of care, along with the six main types of non-parental child care. The results show that in 1998-1999 about 53% of children aged 6 to 24 months were cared for by their parents, while 18% of children were in care outside the home with a non-relative, and a further 11% were outside the home with a relative. By 2002-2003, an average 52% of these children were in a different type of care arrangement from that of 1998-1999. Common patterns in the change over time in the types of care are explained in more detail in the report.
Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 4450.
The study Child Care in Canada (89-599-MIE2006003, free) is now available online. From the Our products and services page, under Browse our Internet publications, choose Free, then Social conditions, then Children and Youth research paper series.
For more information about the data collected during the first five cycles of the NLSCY or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (1-800-461-9050; 613-951-3321; firstname.lastname@example.org), Special Surveys Division.