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National Data Sets: Sources of Information for Canadian Child Care Data

by Dafna Kohen, Barry Forer and Clyde Hertzman
Health Analysis and Measurement Group Division
Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, No. 284

Context

Families are increasingly using day cares and making other arrangements to care for their children. Changes in family structure and employment patterns have led to the increased use of different types of child care arrangements for preschool as well as school-aged children. The last decade has seen particularly sharp growths in the employment rate of women with children and in the number of dual-earner families. The use of formal care arrangements is a reality and demands are expected to increase for the future. Much of the existing literature focuses on U.S. studies and little work has been done examining the effects of care arrangements for Canadian children. Several national longitudinal surveys exist in Canada, and although the primary focus is not on child care arrangements, data are collected about a variety of factors that can increase our understanding about care decisions that families make while one or both parents are working or studying.

Objective(s)

The purpose of the present paper is 1) to review the available national data surveys relevant to studying issues of employment, child care, and family and child well-being; 2) to summarize existing research using Canadian national survey data examining issues of family, employment and child care; 3) to identify policy-relevant areas of research that could be answered using existing National data sources; and 4) to identify gaps where data are lacking.

Findings

The study concludes that numerous questions remain unanswered in terms of addressing the relationship between patterns of employment, use of child care, family roles and responsibilities, and associations with the health of families. Recommendations are made about information that has not been collected but may prove to be useful in addressing these issues. Moreover, we conclude that existing Canadian national survey data could be used to address several issues related to patterns of care use as well as the impact on children and families.

Data source(s)

The study uses several reference texts and research papers related to data on child care use in Canada.

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