Sessione 36

ECEC services between the pandemic crises and the Next generation EU. Combining safety, sustainability, quality and expansion

Coordinatori/coordinatrici di sessione: Stefania Sabatinelli (Politecnico di Milano)



The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has had inevitable serious impacts on ECEC services. After their long closure in Spring 2020, the re-opening happened with differentiated organization, timing and rules in different national, regional and even local contexts.

Implications have been observed on at least four levels:

  1. Very hard conditions of work-family balance for those parents whose work was not suspended during the lockdown, either in the workplace or in home-working.
  2. Sustainability and management issues, for public bodies, private providers and services’ workers, connected to the lack of revenues in the lockdown months and to the reduced profitability after the re-opening (e.g. reduction of the adult-children ratio and of the children admitted per sqmt, costs of cleaning and protection devices, etc.).
  3. Higher risks of exclusion of vulnerable children (poor, with unemployed parents, with disabilities or chronic illnesses, with a migrant background).
  4. Quality issues, related to the risk that the new safety and protection procedures hinder the social investment value of ECEC services, privileging the reconciliation over the pre-education and early socialization objectives.

Thus, in the different contexts, policymakers, providers and workers are striving to combine safety, sustainability and quality in face of the pandemic. At the same time, the resources of the Next Generation EU Fund allow to resume or relaunch expansion plans, especially in countries like Italy, where coverage increase and especially reduction in territorial gaps have been lagging for several years.

The session welcomes papers reflecting on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic on the ECEC services, in terms of particular configurations of constraints and opportunities, in one specific context or comparing national or regional/local cases. Particularly welcome are papers that combine empirical evidence with theoretical reflections. The session accepts papers both in English and in Italian.