A Region Focuses on Early Childhood

The canton of Ticino will be devoting a great deal of attention to the topic of early childhood in the coming months. This will include a traveling exhibition and related regional activities, which are sponsored in part by the Jacobs Foundation.

The quality of child care is not yet what it should be. The government and society need to rethink their approach, since high quality is not without cost. One of the goals of the Stimme Q (A Voice for Quality) association, founded in 2012, is to encourage a discussion of the issue of quality. By presenting an exhibition, accompanied by related activities at the regional level, the association wants to highlight what past discussions have often given too little attention: the child’s perspective.

Thanks to funding from the federal government, Switzerland has been able to add 50,000 new non-family child care slots over the past 13 years. In Ticino, 827 new slots have been added in daycare centers (asili nidi) and 363 in facilities that provide before- and/or after-school care. This has benefited Ticino’s some 22,000 children under the age of 6. Studies have shown that approximately two-thirds of all households in Ticino with at least one child under age four rely on non-family child care.

Heinz Altorfer, president of Stimme Q and a sponsor of the Ready campaign, stresses the need to discuss more than just quantity: “We must begin to develop policies based on a recognition that the early childhood period is also a phase of a child’s education. We need to raise awareness, among policymakers and the broader public, in the interest of creating the conditions necessary for improving quality.”

In an effort to advance the public discussion of child-care quality, the Jacobs Foundation is conducting a number of projects and supporting regional activities associated with the traveling exhibition.