14 Jul 2022

Empowering children: childcare services in a rights-based comparative perspective


This paper analyses early childhood education and care policy in Italy, Germany and Poland. Drawing on the capability approach and building on the power resources analytical framework, it maps policy design features in these three countries. Although the three childcare regimes fall under the umbrella of ‘familialism’, they exhibit some important differences. The paper finds that legal entitlement alone, which only exists in Germany, is not a necessary or sufficient condition to guarantee access for all children. In addition, it appears that similar funding structures do not affect all children and their families equally and quality of services can vary significantly. Instrumental resources, which are expected to help families to access childcare and reduce informational barriers to take-up, are underdeveloped in the three countries. Where they do exist, it is at local level. Finally, enforcement resources, that is, legal channels for individuals to claim their entitlement to childcare, only exist in Germany, where children have the legal entitlement, and seem to provide families with additional leverage in claiming a childcare place.

This working paper is published as part of the EuSocialCit project, which has received funding from the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme under grant agreement no. 870978.