The debate about how, where and by whom young children should be looked after is one which has occupied much social policy and media attention in recent years. Mothers undertake most of the care of young children. Internationally, out-of-home day-care provision ranges widely. These different levels of provision are not simply a response to different levels of demand for day-care, but reflect cultural and economic interests concerning the welfare of children, the need to promote mothers' participation in paid work, and the importance of socialising children into society's values. At a time when a decline in family values is held responsible for a range of social problems, the day-care debate has a special prominence.