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Essential but undervalued: Early years care & education during COVID-19

Essential but undervalued: Early years care & education during COVID-19
Online, Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Event date: 
23 Feb 2022 - 11:00am to 12:00pm

About this event

Between March 2020 and June 2020, much of the early years sector (nurseries, childminders and nannies) closed to all but the children of key workers. Since then, intermittent closures or retraction of provision of nurseries and other settings has caused extensive disruption to parents who depend on care and education for pre-school children. This disruption has also been felt by those who staff the sector, who have experienced financial hardship and sometimes unsafe working conditions. The sector will play a key role in post-Covid recovery, as it is foundational to the economy and yet it is facing a recruitment and retention crisis after years of underfunding, exacerbated by the pandemic.

Leeds University Business School is delighted to invite you to this Ideas in Practice event which marks the conclusion of the project. In this webinar, the Childcare during COVID team launch its report 'Essential, but undervalued: early years staff and families during the COVID-19 pandemic ’ and discuss the challenges and opportunities for the future of early childhood education and care.

Speakers include:

  • Helen Hayes MP, Shadow Minister (Education)
  • Dr Kate Hardy, Project PI, Associate Professor, Leeds University Business School
  • Professor Jennifer Tomlinson, Project PI, Professor of Gender and Employment Relations, Leeds University Business School

This event will launch the final report from “Childcare during COVID-19” - a major study examining the effect of the pandemic on the early years sector, its workforce and the families who rely on it. Drawing on two waves of surveys with 5,542 responses and 321 interviews with 197 participants including nursery managers and workers, childminders, nannies, parents and grandparents. The findings demonstrate the financial pressures experienced within the sector, their uneven impact and the ways in which the pandemic has exacerbated existing intra- and inter-household inequalities. Findings include:

  • Inequalities between households have been exacerbated, as children and parents in areas of greatest deprivation are more likely to be under threat of losing access to high-quality early childhood education and care
  • Covid-19 has worsened long-term issues around affordability of ECEC and childcare for parents
  • The workforce across the sector feel undervalued and unrecognized, leading to low morale, declining wellbeing and mental health as well a care and brain drain
  • Covid-related factors have widened the responsibilities of early years workers and intensified their work, worsening the retention and recruitment crisis
  • Government guidance and support to the ECEC sector during COVID-19 was not fit for purpose, particularly for childminders and nannies
  • Mothers have disproportionately felt the impact from the difficulty in accessing ECEC on their paid work and/or career progression
  • Parents (and particularly mothers) report substantial and sustained negative impact on their well-being and mental health due to disruptions to formal and informal ECEC and childcare and wider family and community-based networks

The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations and interventions to ensure a more resilient future for this vital sector and its workforce, including:

  • Formal designation of the workforce as ‘critical workers’
  • Business continuity payments through a viability support fund
  • A need for enhanced access to sick pay for ECEC workers 
  • Improvements to employment support schemes, which reflect the complexities of the workforce in ECEC
  • Recruitment campaign and actions on low pay, low morale and recognition
  • Creation of sustainable career paths in early years, with pay progression reflecting skills
  • Supply-side core infrastructure for early years, including places for most deprived children and/or in areas of highest deprivation
  • Existing 'Free entitlement’ to be fully funded by government at actual cost for providers
  • Investment in community-based provision for those who do not use ECEC settings, notably in deprived areas.

Research presentation and panel discussion will be followed by audience Q&A.

Research team: Dr Helen Norman, Dr Katie Cruz, Dr Xanthe Whittaker, Dr Nathan Archer; Dr Rose Smith; Dr Soumia Nouari; Bethan Starkey

Contact name: 
Leeds University Business School - Impact & Engagement
Contact email: 
Contact phone: 

Shifting margins: Challenging North/South binaries

Online, Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Event date: 
29 Nov 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm


Where exactly, in our troubled time, is the global south, and why does it matter? In this panel discussion we interrogate the notion of persistent binaries and boundaries – geographical, geo-political, onto-epistemological – that continue to dominate the field of early childhood research, policy and practice. We set out to engage with, and question, the realities of young children and early childhood educators in the global north and south and beyond, based on the diverse contexts of the three panelists from the Americas and South-East Asia.

Panelist Bios:

Luz Marina Hoyos Vivas: Luz Marina Hoyos Vivas is a community psychologist, based in Colombia. She recently completed the Individualized doctoral program at the University of Concordia, Montreal, Canada, has worked as a consultant for the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare and for other regional and national government organizations, advising on the public policies of early childhood and education, including collaborative publications with the University of Alberta and Concordia University in Canada focused on teachers’ educational formation towards inclusive education.

Yulida Pangastuti: Yulida has worked on research projects from universities, governments, non-governmental-, inter-governmental-, and multilateral organizations for 20 years, leads a team of researchers for Indonesia’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. She has developed national action plans to support youth wellbeing and education, produced reports and led the development of ASEAN’s work plan on education 2021-2-2025. She currently works as director for a consulting company, Tulodo Indonesia.

Claudia Diaz-Diaz: Claudia Diaz-Diaz is an instructor in the Faculty of Education and the Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia (UBC). She is also an educational consultant in the Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology - Indigenous Initiatives at UBC. Her research has focused on critical childhood studies, teacher education, critical policy analysis, critical research methodologies, and Indigenization in higher education.

Moderator Bios:

Vina Adriany: Vina Adriany is Head for Centre of Gender and Childhood Studies, Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia. Her research focuses on the issues of gender and social justice in early childhood education (ECE) as well as the impact of neoliberalism in ECE. She has published a number of peer reviewed articles and book chapters on these topics.

Jennifer Guevara: Jennifer Guevara is Postdoctoral Rising Talent Fellow of the Early Childhood Research Centre at Dublin City University, Ireland and Associate Researcher of the Education Programme at the Centre for the Implementation of Public Policies for Equity and Growth (CIPPEC). She works on questions of Early Childhood Education and Care policies, systems and workforce, with a particular focus in South America. Guevara holds a PhD in Education from Universidad de San Andrés, Argentina, and is co-founder of the Latin American Network for Research of Early Childhood Education, Care and Upbringing (Red de Estudios Latinoamericanos sobre Crianza, Enseñanza y Cuidado, RELACEC).