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COVID-19 childcare chaos: Perspectives from educators and parents in British Columbia

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Smith, J. & Gender and COVID-19
Publication Date: 
1 Jul 2020

Excerpted from introduction

COVID-19 Childcare Chaos: Perspectives CO HEADLINE BOLD from educators and parents in British Columbia July 2020

• Many childcare workers felt unprotected and undervalued during the first wave of COVID-19

• Parents left work, and were unable to return to or find new work, because of uncertainty around childcare

• Lack of childcare is disproportionately affecting mothers in terms of unpaid care work and formal employment

• Lack of childcare made it difficult for single parents to access necessities while following physical distancing • Both parents and childcare workers felt there was a lack of clear COVID-19 guidelines regarding childcare


On 17 March 2020, Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, declared COVID-19 a public health emergency in British Columbia and the majority of childcare centres across the province closed to all but the families of essential workers. Concurrently, many workplaces either closed or asked employees to work from home. Childcare facilities began reopening in June and July 2020.


This brief provides an initial rapid analysis of experiences and perspectives of both parents and childcare educators during the initial wave of COVID-19 in order to assess impacts and inform policy responses.


These preliminary findings drawn from interviews with childcare educators (8) from a variety of types of centres (including licenced and unlicensed/ non-profit and for-profit/in-home and institutional) and parents (11) who used childcare services prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Sampling was voluntary, with requests for participants circulated through social media posts and nonprofit organizations. All childcare educators interviewed identified as women; seven parents identified as women and four identified as men. Interviewees were located in the lower mainland of British Columbia. Interviews were conducted over the phone or by electronic means between 1 May and 15 June. Framework analysis was used to develop these initial rapid results, illustrating the multidimensional effects of childcare closures. Ethics approval was provided by the Office of Research Ethics at Simon Fraser University.