Researchers at the School of Social and Political Science (SPS) have won new funding from the Economic and Social Research Council to address the urgent need for effective childcare solutions for families during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
The research project – ‘Childcare and Wellbeing in Times of Covid-19: Developing crisis-resilient care solutions’ – will build a comprehensive picture of how the pandemic has affected families’ childcare arrangements and wellbeing in the short and longer term, drawing on in-depth interviews with parents and experts, and secondary analysis of a wide range of data sources on Covid-19 impact.
It will also develop a co-produced policy-toolkit to support local councils in designing effective and sustainable childcare solutions during the pandemic and beyond. This will be developed in collaboration with local and national policy-makers and partners.
The project is led by SPS’s Dr Ingela Naumann, in partnership with the Scottish Community Development Centre.
Dr Naumann said: “The closure of schools and childcare services in the wake of Covid-19 created a national childcare crisis and there is an urgent need to find childcare solutions for all families, beyond key workers. High-quality childcare services are crucial for children’s equal opportunities, particularly for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. They are also crucial in supporting parents’ ability to work and families’ financial security.
“Little is known about the impact Covid-related childcare challenges have had and are having on families’ welfare during this pandemic. This research will build a full picture on this and provide solutions for policy-makers and local authorities to address specific childcare needs and access-challenges of families in different circumstances.”
Dr Naumann and the research team will interview parents in rural and urban communities in Scotland on their experiences of lockdown, social distancing, blended learning and the rapid changes in childcare arrangements they have faced since the outbreak of the pandemic. They will also develop a series of co-production labs linking up with local and regional partnership initiatives.
This 12-month project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19.
Making an impact across the UK
While the research will be carried out in Scotland, the policy toolkit will be suitable for use by local councils across the UK, protecting and improving the wellbeing of children and parents nationwide.