About the project

Our starting point

Prior to the Covid-19-outbreak, childcare arrangements of families in the UK were often complex. This was mainly due to:

  • existing provider landscapes 
  • entitlement frameworks
  • childcare services notalways being affordable or accessible, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Government-measures such as lockdown and social distancing were important in reducing the spread of Covid-19 and its burden on healthcare systems. Yet, these policies have exacerbated intense childcare challenges for many families with young children. Since then, families have had to juggle ‘home-working’ with childcare and ‘home-schooling’, sometimes in constrained living spaces and in many instances with reduced budgets where parents have lost income or jobs. 

These new circumstances can cause long-term harm to employment, child-outcomes, wellbeing and relationships. 

The closure of schools and childcare services in the wake of Covid-19 created a national ‘childcare crisis’ with potentially severe effects on families’ livelihoods and wellbeing. This ‘crisis’ could be particularly challenging for families in vulnerable circumstances. Since Covid-19 and its impacts are likely to be persistent, there is urgent need for crisis-resilient solutions. These solutions should encompass high-quality childcare provision reaching all families -beyond keyworkers- in order to mitigate the impact of future waves of Covid-19-infections or other pandemics of similar scale. 

Our aims

The objectives of this project are two-fold. Firstly, it will collate an evidence base providing a comprehensive picture on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected families’ childcarearrangements and wellbeing in the short and longer term. This will include:  

  • collection of rich new data (in-depth interviews with parents and stakeholders)
  • identifying the specific childcare needs and challenges of families in different circumstances (including socio-economic background, protected characteristics, geographical area), and
  • the triangulation with secondary analysis of a wide range of data-sources on Covid-19 impact (including nationally representative surveys and convenience samples)

Secondly, in partnership with local and national stakeholders and policymakers, the project will develop a co-produced policy-toolkit. The policy toolkit will provide community-based implementation and practice pathways to support Local Councils’ crisis responses and to inform national early years and school-care policy. The innovative project-design, combining a comprehensive array of data analysis with a collaborative co-production strategy for local service solutions, aims at pioneering in designing resilient childcare provision that protects family wellbeing during this pandemic and beyond.