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Childcare During Covid

Affiliate projects

Formal childcare faced financial difficulties before COVID-19. Now 1 in 4 nurseries may not reopen after the crisis. This project is generating empirical evidence on why and where these closures are occurring. It will look at what closures will mean for families and how the changing EY landscape and its sustainability will impact on returns to work. We will also examine the gender and socio-economic (in)equalities of closures and the ability to return to work.

Additionally, the project seeks to understand the impact on home-based and informal care. Pre-COVID-19, five million grandparents regularly provided childcare. We will generate knowledge of grandparents’ ability to provide care, parental responses to loss of informal support and the implications for EY provision.

Ensuring safe environments for workers, children and families

Childcare necessitates close physical proximity. Some social distancing and safety measures have been enacted within care settings and the project will investigate the challenges this poses for providing safe EY environments, as well as the additional financial pressures it brings.  We will also look at staff, children and families who are clinically vulnerable, and may not be able to return to group settings to determine how they can be supported.

Research Aims

  • To identify the challenges of the impact of Covid-19 on the EY sector in England and Wales and associated knowledge gaps
  • To rapidly produce large-scale, detailed evidence on the nature of these challenges
  • To generate policy measures and interventions to ensure safe, financially sustainable care and a more resilient future for this vital sector of the economy.

Research questions

  • What are the key pressures on EY childcare provision in England and Wales as a result of COVID-19?
  • How will the landscape of formal and informal childcare provision change during and after COVID-19?
  • How can sufficient provision be ensured and made sustainable and safe for providers, staff and families?
  • How can new knowledge about innovations in policy and best practice solutions forge a more resilient and sustainable future for the EY childcare sector in England and Wales?

Data and Publications:

Final Report:

Essential but undervalued- early years care and education during COVID 19

Briefing Papers:

Sustainability of Early Childhood Education and Care in England: Evidence through COVID-19. 

Workforce stability and working conditions in the Early Years sector: Evidence through Covid19. 

Public Inquiry – Government preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic

Rewage Advisory Group submission – policy recommendations


Educators, not glorified babysitters


The Conversation: Why early-years education must be prioritised in pandemic recovery plans


Presentation for Linking Leeds seminar series 


Nannies during the COVID -19 pandemic: a workforce concerned with safety and stability

Childminders during the COVID -19 pandemic: an invisibilised, but essential workforce

Has Covid-19 left early-years settings in crisis? Evidence from nurseries in England and Wales

Research Team:

Dr Kate Hardy

PI and Associate Professor in Work and Employment Relations, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Prof Jennifer Tomlinson

Co-Investigator, Lead for WP4. Professor of Gender and Employment Relations, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Dr Helen Norman
Co-Investigator, Lead for WP3.  Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Dr Katie Cruz
Co-Investigator, Lead for WP2. Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Bristol Law School

Dr Xanthe Whittaker
Impact and Dissemination Lead. Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Dr Louise Winton Schreuders
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Dr Nathan Archer
Postdoctoral Researcher (Qualitative), Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC), University of Leeds

Digital Advisory Board 

Councillor Fiona Venner, Leeds City Council Kirkstall Ward, Labour Executive Board Member for Children and Families,

Ruth Pearson, Women’s Budget Group,

Liz Roberts, Nursery World,

Miranda Hall, New Economic Foundation,

Prof Helen Penn, University of East London, Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University College London

Dr Jana Javornick, University of Leeds & Government of Slovenia,

Helen Donohoe, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY),

Elaine Pitteway, Childminding UK,

Tricia Pritchard, BAPN, the Association for Professional Nannies,

Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance,

Shân Hardy, Early Years SENCO, Newham

Veronica Deutsch, Nanny Solidarity Network

Megan Jarvie, Coram Family and Childcare,

Victoria Benson, Gingerbread,

Anna Westall, Children in Wales,

Dr Rebecca Jones, Working Families,