Working for women? : family day care providers' social and economic experience in England and Germany
Family day care providers operate at the interface of the private and the public. They are self-employed and work at home, yet their 'suitability' to provide childcare is scrutinised by officials and rules and regulations operating on different levels which can restrict their business opportunities. Family day care takes place in a particular cultural context concerning ideas of childrearing and against the backdrop of other childcare and educational provision. The focus of the thesis is the family day care provider, one of the members in the childcare triangle of child, parents and childcare worker. Previous research was mainly interested in the quality of childcare provided and parents' satisfaction. Here working conditions, such as hours worked, workload, income are examined, as are career prospects. Who are the women who become family day care providers and how do they see their future? The daily routines of family day care providers are examined and possible detenninants investigated. However, perceived needs of children may differ from demands arising out of parents' reason for using this kind of childcare service. Family day care providers accounts are examined in order to identify the various aspects of childcare arrangements and how to develop relationships that promote successful arrangements. Since family day care takes place in the home other family members are part of the setting and are affected by their mother's or wife's work. At the same time their contribution to the work of a family day care provider has to be included in the investigation ofthe working conditions. The comparison of family day care providers living in two different locations, four local authorities in the Northeast of England and one town in the Northeast of Germany allows the influence of family and childcare policies and the impact of cultural perceptions of good childrearing practices to be traced. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods was employed. Apart from new insights into the actual working conditions of family day care providers, a better understanding of the intended and unintended effects of policies regulating family day care has been gained. The findings contribute to the debate on paid and unpaid work, and paid and unpaid care, as well as to the debate over equal opportunities, showing a more complicated relationship than just a gendered division.