Presentation - ECV2022-268
Parents’ perspectives on ECEC and family wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, Australia
Penny Levickis, The University of Melbourne, Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lisa Murray, The University of Melbourne, Australia (email@example.com)
Lynn Lee-Pang, The University of Melbourne, Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Patricia Eadie, The University of Melbourne, Australia (email@example.com)
Jane Page, The University of Melbourne, Australia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Background: The COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for early childhood education and care (ECEC) services and families, impacting families’ access to and engagement with ECEC services.
Aim: This qualitative study aimed to examine parents’ perspectives of their engagement with ECEC services and the wellbeing of their family during the COVID-19 pandemic in Victoria, Australia.
Method: Victoria experienced among the lengthiest and most severe lockdowns in Australia, with ECEC services being closed to all families except essential workers and vulnerable children for months during 2020. Primary caregivers of young children (aged 1–6 years) who were enrolled in ECEC services in Victoria were invited to participate in the study in September–November 2020. Upon completion of an online survey, 25 parents took part in follow up semi-structured online interviews.
Results: The following key themes were conceptualised using a reflexive thematic approach: impacts of disrupted ECEC access on family relationships; child and parent wellbeing; loss of ECEC community impacting family wellbeing; effective ECEC engagement and support of families and children during the pandemic; and increased appreciation of ECEC as an essential service for families.
Conclusions: Although the pandemic created significant challenges impacting the wellbeing of many families, it also highlighted the critical role ECEC plays in families’ lives.
Implications for children and families: ECEC provides a vital service not only in providing education and care for your children, but importantly, in supporting your family’s wellbeing and your workforce participation.
Implications for practitioners: Maintaining strong partnerships with families is critical to supporting child and family wellbeing. As reported by many parents in this study, you provide an essential service for families, and government investment and advocacy is needed to further highlight the vital work you do and enhance the value of the sector in society.
Key words: families’ voices, wellbeing, education, qualitative methods
This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: