About the Quality by Design project

Quality by Design is a project of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit, University of Toronto and is funded by Social Development Canada. It has a duration of three years (2004-2007). The project leaders are Martha Friendly and Jane Beach.

The Quality by Design project is intended to facilitate dialogue, debate and knowledge development regarding conceptions of and approaches to high quality early learning and child care (ELCC) programs that both enhance children’s development and support families.

High quality ELCC programs are known to have positive long-term effects on child development in the social, cognitive and physical domains whereas poor quality ELCC programs may have detrimental effects. At the same time, Canada’s high labour force participation of mothers (at 75% with youngest child 3-5 years in 2003) means that families rely on child care as a support to employment.

Intergovernmental work to begin to put a Canadian national provincially/territorially delivered ELCC system in place began in 2004. The ELCC system will be shaped by four principles – the “QUAD” - Quality, Universality, Accessibility and Developmental [ness]. Currently, research shows that Canadian child care centres are more likely to be mediocre than high quality. The OECD’s 2004 review of ELCC in Canada made no less than six recommendations on quality including a recommendation to “develop a national quality framework for early childhood services”. The issue at hand then is to devise ways of moving from an uneven but generally mediocre ELCC situation to one that is high quality enough to meet the Quality and Development principles of the QUAD.

This project builds upon previous work in Canada and elsewhere including

a) the work of the Quality by Design project to date (QBD began as an exploratory project with policymakers from four provinces intended to develop strategies for improving ELCC quality at the policy level);

b) international work such as that of the OECD and the European Union;

c) Canadian work on quality;

d) the broad research literature on all aspects of quality.

The project will broaden the discussion and work on quality in ELCC to engage key non-government and government stakeholders from across Canada who will be in a position to have an impact on quality as the new national program comes on stream.

Quality by Design is funded by the Social Development Partnerships Program, Social Development Canada, whose contribution is acknowledged with sincere thanks. The materials on this website do not necessarily represent the point of view of the funder.