The purpose of the present study is to explore how to best enhance publicity in private kindergartens and childcare centers (henceforth, K&CC) in Korea. Policy developers and the government have recently started making efforts to strengthen the public roles of private K&CC in order to meet the increasing demand for child care and early childhood education. In this study, we a) defined the concept of publicity in K&CC, b) reviewed the policies for young children, c) conducted a survey on the state of public involvement in K&CC, and d) suggested several strategies to enhance publicity.
This study employed a number of research methods, such as a review of literature, a survey, interviews, and workshops. A total of 930 directors of private kindergartens and childcare centers (483 from K and 447 from CC) responded to the survey questions, and 40 public service personnel in charge of supervising regional K&CC were interviewed regarding the current status and public transparency of K&CC, including strategies for enhancing them both. Advisory committee meetings and workshops were held four times to collect professional opinions in this field.
The survey results showed that 69.9% of the subjects (58.1% of the childcare providers and 79.1% of kindergarten directors) thought of private K&CC as non-profit institutions. With regard to the policies for enhancing public transparency, private kindergartens (K) and childcare centers (CC) agreed as follows:
- implementing an electronic administration system: 74.6% (CC) vs. 79.6% (K)
- government’s supervision to finance K&CC: 72.4%(CC) vs. 61.4%(K)
- transforming to non-profit foundations: 63.9% (CC) vs. 46.3% (K)
- regular evaluations by the government: 56.2% (CC) vs. 56.8% (K)
- establishing parental boards in K&CC: 56.5% (CC) vs. 45.5% (K) - reflecting the results of governmental supervision in financial support: 69.6% (KCC)
Regarding the question on selling their institutions to the government, 53.8% of childcare providers and 57.1% of kindergarten directors agreed. Institutions of relatively small size and poor finances showed the highest consent rate on this issue.
To improve the roles of K&CC as public institutions, three directions were suggested: commonality of programs, transparency of management, and official support and supervision from the government. It is posited that public transparency in K&CC can mainly be enhanced through a high level of cooperation among K&CC, parents, and governments. It is also emphasized that the government should increase financial support, expand the number of national and public K&CC and non-profit foundations, and strengthen its supervision of private K&CC.