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This article seeks to explain why the public provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in Reggio di Calabria – the largest city of the Calabria…
This article seeks to explain why the public provision of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services in Reggio di Calabria – the largest city of the Calabria region in Southern Italy – has remained among the lowest in the country, failing to respond to the growing local demand for such services. Most of the limited formal supply of ECEC services currently available in the city is almost exclusively provided, for a fee, by private – until recently unregulated – day care centres, whereas households who cannot afford them must still rely on family care.
Based on original research findings, the article explains how such a supply configuration is the result of several concurrent factors – structural, institutional and cultural, on both the demand and the supply side of the service relation – and has been conditioned by both national and local specificities.
The complex interplay of these factors accounts not only for the enduring absence of an adequate public provision of ECEC services in the city and its region but also for the reproduction of an “unsupported” familistic model of care, while a loosely regulated private supply answers the growing demand coming from the working women who can afford it.
The lack of public ECEC, which was significantly aggravated by the 2008 financial crisis, represents a major constraint for women's emancipation and social justice in an already difficult socio-economic context.
The article provides in-depth knowledge on the enduring deficit of public ECEC services in a region and city that are little studied, together with a contextualized interpretation of its causes and implications.