chapter  6
Universal service provision for children and young people
A challenge for policy makers
ByRoger Smith
Pages 10

Universal services, then, do not necessarily mean uniform services if they are to promote both general goals in terms of a good childhood, and the specific needs of children themselves, which are likely to be shaped by disadvantage, inequality and discrimination. The problematic position and status of children and young people, then, creates a substantial challenge for those engaged in planning and organizing service provision. Proponents of selective child welfare provision point to the economic costs associated with universalism, arguing that it is simply wasteful to provide benefits to affluent sectors of the community who have no need of them. The relationship between universal and selective services is significant, and it can be helpful to think in terms of three distinct 'phases' of universal service provision in order to explore the implications of this interaction: entitlement, access and use. A strong argument has been made for universalism in child care by American researchers reviewing the evidence on early year’s provision.