The European Platform for Investing in Children (EPIC) has published a new report exploring how EU Member States supported working families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in Europe in 2020 resulted in significant challenges for many across Europe. Working parents faced particular challenges, with the widespread closure of early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings and schools leading to the need to balance caring for and educate children at home with work commitments.
The report outlines the existing evidence from international and EU level sources about these challenges and policies to address them across the EU27, before focusing in more depth on ten case study Member States.
For these ten case study Member States, we outline the policies and practices around family leave, childcare, and financial assistance that governments put into place with the aim of supporting families with working parents during COVID-19.
Analysis of the policies shows that Member States across the EU used a variety of policies to support working parents throughout the pandemic. Many Member States introduced extraordinary family leave to support parents during periods of school and ECEC setting closure, sometimes extending existing leave eligibility or introducing new forms of leave.
Amongst widespread closure of childcare facilities:
- Member States often followed policies that prioritised care for children of “essential workers” and supported ECEC providers
- additionally, a few Member States adapted financial support structures for working families to increase support during COVID-19
- other support provided in some Member States included summer school programmes and general guidance for working parents
We found that few Member States studied as case studies have planned or conducted evaluations of these policies (according to publicly available information) – meaning the effect of these approaches is unclear. Unfortunately, evidence about the effectiveness of these policies is scarce. More data is needed to provide policy makers with a solid evidence base for upcoming policies.
EPIC supports Member States to invest in children
This research note is part of a series of research notes developed by EPIC, each focusing on a particular area that is of interest to the European Child Guarantee. Previous research notes have focused on the benefits of extracurricular activities for children and healthcare access for homeless children and families. Previous EPIC annual thematic report outlines changes and new developments in child and family policies across the EU Member States and the UK during 2019.
EPIC also produces a series of short policy memos focusing on topics relevant to child welfare aimed at policymakers, researchers and practitioners. Previous policy memos have focused on sexuality education and inclusion in early childhood education and care (ECEC).
Source: EPIC publishes annual thematic report exploring how EU Member States supported working families during COVID-19 in 2020 – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (europa.eu)