Preschool is a route out of poverty, it gets women in the workforce, and it reduces financial burdens on the working poor. It also can help mitigate developmental differences that come from growing up in poverty, which means better qualified workers in the long run.
Norfors summed this up when she wrote: “Without preschools, we would not have among the highest female and maternal employment rates in the European Union, or the lowest levels of child poverty.”
This is absolutely true, and it is a huge improvement on the American system, which makes families—especially those less well off—scramble at best and dump their kids in dangerous child care at worst. But the Swedish policies also shine a bright, pragmatic light on the price that young children and their parents are paying all over the globe as work speeds up, even in the midst of a global slowdown.
This is from a post I wrote recently for Quartz. It’s based on a USD 16 million grant the Swedish government has for expanding childcare hours. I’m all for it, of course, especially compared to the Hell of American Daycare, as the New Republican recently put it. But I still stand by my ambivalence that all these kids need to be mainstreamed into child care so early.
I still want three years of parental leave. But what Sweden’s got is still the best around.