CONNECT
search advanced search
UNICEF Innocenti
Office of Research-Innocenti
search menu

Childcare in a Global Crisis

The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life
Childcare in a Global Crisis: The Impact of COVID-19 on work and family life

Publication date: 2020-18

Publication series:
Innocenti Research Briefs

No. of pages: 11

Download the report

(PDF, 0.55 MB)

Abstract

The COVID-19 crisis that has engulfed the world during 2020 challenges children’s education, care and well-being. Many parents struggle to balance their responsibilities for childcare and paid employment, with a disproportionate burden placed on women. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation of families had been described as ‘a global childcare crisis’.

It is estimated that over 35 million children under five years old are sometimes left without adult supervision, a factor often linked to economic pressures on parents to work. With the arrival of the pandemic, 99 per cent of the world’s 2.36 billion children found themselves in a country with some movement restrictions, including 60 per cent under some form of lockdown. This has made childcare an even greater challenge for parents.

Globally, the work of childcare is done predominantly by women. This includes mothers and also other female caregivers such as grandmothers, siblings and workers in the childcare sector. In 2018, 606 million working-age women considered themselves to be unavailable for employment or not seeking a job because of unpaid care work, compared to only 41 million men. This imbalance has major implications for women’s employment and income opportunities and for children’s development and well-being.

UNICEF has previously called for a set of four family-friendly policies for children in the early years, comprising paid parental leave; breastfeeding support; accessible, affordable and good-quality childcare; and child benefits. We have shown that even some of the world’s richest countries fare poorly in terms of these policies, which is a reflection of their policy priorities rather than available resources.

This brief takes a global perspective on one of these four aspects – childcare in the early years. In the current context of lockdown and school closures, lack of childcare is likely to be one of the worst affected services available to families. This paper paints a picture of current progress towards ensuring that all families have access to affordable and high-quality childcare, and considers the implications of the current COVID-19 crisis for childcare globally. We show how governments and employers can help parents to address the
global childcare crisis through paid parental leave, followed by accessible, affordable and high-quality childcare. COVID-19 economic recovery packages have, to date, directed the vast majority of resources to firms rather than to households. This can be changed through public provision of childcare, subsidies, social protection floors and tax incentives.

Available in:
English

More in this series: Innocenti Research Briefs

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021: Covid-19 Special Evidence Brief
Publication Publication

Evidence and Gap Map Research Brief UNICEF Strategic Plan 2018–2021: Covid-19 Special Evidence Brief

This research brief is an addition to a series of five briefs, which provide an overview of available evidence shown in the Campbell-UNICEF Mega-Map of the effectiveness of interventions to improve child well-being in low- and middle-income countries. These briefs summarize evidence as mapped against the five goal areas of UNICEF’s 2018–2021 Strategic Plan, although it is anticipated that they will also be useful for others working in the child well-being space.
Ujana Salama: Cash Plus Model on Youth Well-Being and Safe, Healthy Transitions – Midline Findings
Publication Publication

Ujana Salama: Cash Plus Model on Youth Well-Being and Safe, Healthy Transitions – Midline Findings

This brief provides midline findings from the impact evaluation of a cash plus model targeting youth in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN). Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the programme aims to improve livelihood opportunities and facilitate a safe transition to adulthood. The 'plus' component included training on livelihoods and sexual and reproductive health (SRH)-HIV, mentoring and productive grants, as well as linkages to youth-friendly health services. The impact evaluation is a longitudinal, mixed methods study. The midline analysis was conducted immediately after training (before mentoring, disbursement of productive grants and health facility strengthening).
Ujana Salama: Cash Plus Model on Youth Well-Being and Safe, Healthy Transitions – Round 3 Findings
Publication Publication

Ujana Salama: Cash Plus Model on Youth Well-Being and Safe, Healthy Transitions – Round 3 Findings

“Ujana Salama” (‘Safe Youth’ in Swahili) is a cash plus programme targeting adolescents in households receiving the United Republic of Tanzania’s Productive Social Safety Net (PSSN). Implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF), with technical assistance of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) and UNICEF Tanzania, the ‘plus’ component includes in-person training, mentoring, grants and health services. The impact evaluation studies the differential impact of the integrated programme (cash plus intervention targeting adolescents) with respect to the PSSN only. It is a mixed methods study, including baseline (2017), Round 2 (2018), Round 3 (2019) and Round 4 (2021) surveys. This brief summarizes findings from the Round 3 survey, which was conducted one year after the training, three months after the mentorship period, and one to two months after grant disbursement.
Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 1: Laws, crime and justice
Publication Publication

Interventions to Reduce Violence against Children in Low- and Middle-income Countries. Pillar 1: Laws, crime and justice

The production of evidence on interventions for reducing violence against children (VAC) has steadily increased over the years. Yet, gaps exist that need to be addressed when it comes to research investment priorities and future studies. An Evidence Gap Map provides an overview of available evidence on the topic and eight briefs summarize the findings. This brief focuses on ‘Laws, crime and justice’ interventions to reduce violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. All technical details can be reviewed in the main report.