Objective To assess public opinion about, and interactions with, childcare providers and programs.
Methods Between September 2007 and March 2008, 1443 randomly selected adults living in Alberta, Canada, completed a telephone survey. Individuals were eligible to participate if they had interactions with a child <14 years of age in the past 6 months.
Results Of the respondents, 52% believed the government should cover between 40 and 60% of daycare costs, with 24% indicating more coverage and 23% indicating less coverage. Three-quarters (72%) indicated that childcare providers at daycare centres should have at least a college diploma. About 80 to 90% indicated that childcare providers were as central to children's development as elementary school teachers, with females and parents more likely to believe this for some developmental domains (p<0.05). Overall, 32% of parents had sought information on child development and behaviour from childcare providers. Independent predictors of using childcare providers as a resource included having children under the age of 6 years (OR=1.65, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.46), having children in care for more than 6 h per week (OR=19.88, 95% CI 11.51 to 34.35), and being unmarried (OR=2.08, 95% CI 1.16 to 3.73).
Conclusions Among Alberta adults who recently interacted with children, there was support for public funding of childcare. Adults recognised that childcare providers play a critical role in supporting optimal child development and their beliefs about the need for education among childcare providers are in line with research evidence in the area. Policy and decision makers may find this information helpful in allocating resources to promote child development.
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