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The increasing incorporation of women into paid labor outside home and the poor development of policies enabling work-family conciliation have led to a dramatic increase in demand for early childhood education facilities in Spain. During the last decade, the number of 0-3-year-old children in kindergartens has almost tripled, reaching 437,000 in 2012-2013 (MECD, 2013). However, the response to the increased demand has not been homogenous throughout the country (Bonal, 2002). While some regions have opted for the increase of care facilities offered by public sector, others regions have left it in the hands of private sphere. In the latter case, one of the main repeated arguments to shift the offer of care facilities to private initiative is families’ right to choose appropriate care facility for their children (Fernández Esquinas, 2004). Local authorities argue that the freedom of choice for the type of education families want for their offspring is guaranteed more effectively by the private sector. From sociological perspective, it has been, however, claimed that the use of parallel systems (public, private, but also concerted) serves actually as a strategy of segregation for families with different levels of resources (Feito, 1994 , Mancebón Torrubia, 2007; Enguita Fernández, 2008).
The current paper presents a study carried out in the city of Valencia, where during the last three decades local authorities have been encouraging and supporting the private supply model. The study aims at investigating the relationship between educational supply and demand within a "free choice" model. The paper is organized as follows: after the short discussion of the theoretical arguments about the school selection process we describe the non-university education offer in the city of Valencia; which is followed by the evidence of the evolution of kindergarten supply in the town; and finally there will be presented the results of the analysis of the survey on schools and families.
The data comes from a survey that was carried out within the project "Parental Models and Educational Demands" and was collected from 17 early care centers and more than 200 families in Valencia, Spain. In the first part of the survey, education centers who agreed to participate filled out a questionnaire the functioning of their institution, including information on the time of establishment, existing infrastructure, services offered, local norms and regulations, fees, and education and training program. In the second part of the survey, families with a child(ren) under three years of age attending one of the early care center in the sample were asked to fill out a questionnaire on their school preferences, educational demands, parental model, etc.