Looking at the broadest economic impact of full-day kindergarten
Over at the consistently engaging if awkwardly named Worthwhile Canadian Initiative, Kevin Milligan has written a post about full-day kindergarten, which partially rolled out in BC, Ontario and PEI this fall. He points out that newspapers keep citing studies about high-need students to justify full-day kindergarten for all students.
You have evidence on a bundle of program elements on a severely at risk population. Generalizing from that to Joe middle class in the Ontario program being offered in the 2010s involves a large leap of inference that, myself, I find dubious. The new full day Kindergartens may be the bees’ knees, or they may not. That’s a big question on which I’d like to hold judgment. But I can say more decisively that the evidence used to justify the programs has been exaggerated.
This is a reasonable argument. But when Milligan refers to kindergarten’s “economic benefits” I think he’s missing an angle. Frances Woolley, commenting on the post, is thinking what I’m thinking:
Kevin, the Globe and Mail article that quoted you saying intelligent and sensible things also interviewed a number of parents. Most of them said that all day kindergarten was going to make their child care arrangements much simpler. And we know that low cost, high quality and readily available child care increases female labour force participation (the evidence on that is not exaggerated). Isn’t that what all day kindergarten is all about?
It’s difficult to overstate how large childcare looms in women’s labour force decisions. Most of my friends aren’t parents yet, and won’t be for years yet, but you better believe that work schedules and daycare waiting lists play into our career plans. Full-day kindergarten will simplify those calculations, if only slightly.