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Abstract Looking at core features of child and family related spending and policy design, and covering five domains of policy, the paper offers new empirical evidence and an original perspective for better understanding how EU countries and the UK responded to the needs of children and families during the pandemic and how to classify responses in terms of child-centredness. The paper is driven by a concept of child-centredness to examine developments from March to December 2020 in five policy fields: income support, food assistance, early childcare and education services, school opening and support for parental care-giving. The analysis shows strong variation across countries in terms of how active they were and what fields they were active in. One very striking commonality, though, is that the most popular field of policy action was in resourcing parental care of children at home, through paid leaves usually. A related finding is that there was little prioritising of children for most kinds of actions. Thirdly, in terms of national patterning those countries that were generous spenders on this field of policy prior to the pandemic were most child-centred in their response and there are few if any exceptions to this.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Social Policy


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date



1 - 18