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Title: To take up or not to take up? : government early years services in India and their utilization by working mothers in a Delhi slum
Author: Mitra, Mahima
ISNI:       0000 0004 6060 587X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This study of early years services in India explores the take-up of the government ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) and RGNCS (Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme), and the factors affecting their uptake by working mothers in a Delhi slum. Policy cannot assess programme outcomes effectively without understanding how services are implemented. Existing literature indicates that programme impact is related to programme take-up, with non-take-up being a complex phenomenon affected by factors operating at multiple levels of the policy process. The study makes original contributions by examining user perspectives on early childhood education and care (ECEC) in the Indian context; in being the first to research any aspect of the RGNCS; and in utilizing Critical Realism as the underlying philosophical, theoretical and methodological paradigm for studying programme uptake. It poses five research questions that examine mothers' childcare arrangements and needs/expectations from services, their take-up of government programmes and component services, and the combination of factors affecting uptake. Study findings are based on surveys with 200 working mothers and 37 children's centre workers, and interviews with 15 policy experts. Findings reveal childcare arrangements and needs/expectations to vary by family structure, child's age, and mother's age and employment. ICDS uptake is found to be higher (54.3% of all mothers), than RGNCS (18.6%). An explanatory framework for analysing take-up reveals that low take-up results from a combination of multiple factors, most significantly programme characteristics for the ICDS, and participant characteristics for the RGNCS. Two theoretical frameworks frame this analysis - Wolman's (1981) determinants of programme success and failure, and the 'barriers and bridges' to programme uptake. Critical policy analysis further identifies the effects of the policy meaning-making processes, and the role of local 'street-level bureaucrats' in take-up. Both programmes display 'conflicted policy success' vis-à-vis take-up when categorised using McConnell's (2010) criteria for programme 'success' and 'failure'. Policy implications include strategies for increasing programme uptake, and a policy focus upon service users and women in the informal economy, recognition of the dual role of ECEC, and the importance of evidence-creation for interactive governance.
Supervisor: Smith, Teresa Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Child care--Government policy--India ; Children--Services for--India ; Working mothers--Services for--India ; India--Social policy--21st century ; Delhi (India)--Social conditions--21st century