You could do a lot worse than starting with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is the most widely ratified human rights convention in history, and can be accessed online either in full text, or a summary version is also available. You may also want to look at a UNICEF study from last year, which studied how the Convention has been legally implemented in 12 countries.
Looking at the topic from a European perspective for a moment, the Eurydice website has a page devoted to Early Childhood Education and Care which will give you some basic information on the early years setup in 36 different countries. On a similar note, the organisation has information on Compulsory Age of Starting School in European Countries. Still on a European note, earlier this year the European Commission published a report entitled Childcare Services forSchool Age Children: a Comparative Review of 33 Countries, and their 2009 report - Tackling Social and Cultural Inequalities through Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe - may also be of interest.
Looking further afield, the International Bureau of Education recently published a fantastic resource entitled Early Childhood Care & Education and the Curriculum: a List of Resources, which pulls together links to all sorts of early years documents from around the globe. The OECD also has a page devoted to Early Childhood and Schools, and its series of reports entitled Quality Matters in Early Childhood and Care should also be of interest. The Bernard van Leer Foundation website is another place worth visiting for information on all sorts of childhood issues.
There have been quite a few reports from various other organisations over the last few years which could also prove interesting. It might just be easier if I list these!
- DfE (2013) A Comparison of International Childcare Systems
- International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (2013) Quality Education for All Children? What Works in Education in Developing Countries
- Scottish Government (2013) Early Childhood Education and Care Provision: International Review of Policy, Delivery and Funding
- Economist Intelligence Unit (2012) Starting Well: Benchmarking Early Education Across the World
- DECET (2012) Diversity and Social Inclusion: Exploring Competences for Professional Practice in Early Childhood Education and Care
- CfBT (2010) An International Perspective on Integrated Children’s Services