Influences on politicians' decision making for early childhood education and care policy: What do we know? What don't we know?

Year: 2008

Author: Bown, Kathryn, Sumsion, Jennifer, Press, Frances

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Politicians play a key role in determining policy content and outcomes for early childhood education and care (ECEC) (Brennan, 1998a). As a result, the quality of formal ECEC provisions for children rests to a considerable extent on the policy decisions of politicians. Despite direct and indirect effects of politicians' policy decisions for the ECEC field, few studies explore influences on politicians' policy decisions, and fewer still pertain to ECEC. In light of the significant gap in the research investigating how and why politicians make the decisions that they do, we present a case for a research agenda to investigate politicians' policy decision making processes in ECEC. A review of the literature pertaining to influences on political decision making reveals some possible influences on politicians' decision making generally, but not for ECEC policy specifically. Using the policy sphere of ECEC to illustrate the complexities of social policy development and implementation in a democratic political system, we put forward a conceptualisation of policy that generates a wide range of questions to inform the development of a research agenda. We conclude with a discussion of the possible implications that a research agenda investigating politicians' policy decisions in ECEC might have for the early childhood field.