Aarhus University Seal

When a crisis undermines quality public service provision: Romanian early childhood education and care through the SARS-Cov-2 epidemic

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Borbála Kovács

What appeared to be the success of many Eastern European states in managing the toll of the SARS-Cov-2 pandemic in its first round has been attributed to the early introduction of strict lockdown. However, erring on the side of caution came at a high price, with mixed economies of welfare shifting sometimes radically towards families, with the related costs unevenly distributed. Using the case of early childhood education and care (ECEC), the article explores the specifics of what has been a more general pattern in epidemic-induced social policy adaptation in the Romanian context: the overnight, radical and prolonged individualisation of service provision without the corresponding remaking of the cash nexus. It expands on the timeline of government decisions on family policy adaptations, including ECEC service provision. The article also reviews fragmented evidence about the impact of ECEC service suspension on the mixed economy of early years care. The article explains how and why the Romanian government was able to effectively suspend ECEC service delivery between March and September 2020 while keeping related financial arrangements practically unaltered, and do so without open protest. The Romanian case reveals how and why a family policy environment historically characterised by fragmented, selective and partially adequate provision, directly and indirectly maintaining the familialisation of young children’s care, acts as a catalyst for more of the same in hard times: fragmented, selective and only partially adequate intervention. In conceptual terms, the article suggests that familialist family policy is particularly sticky, more so in times of crisis than in ‘good’ times.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Social Policy
Pages (from-to)508-528
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

    Research areas

  • Care services, early childhood education and care, elections, familialisation, family policy, pandemic

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 228143961