Journal of Social Policy


Coordination Points: A Hidden Factor in Reconciling Work and Family Life

a1 Lecturer in Social Policy, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, University of York, Heslington, York YO10 5DD email:

Article author query
skinner c   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 


Despite improvements in childcare provision since the implementation of the National Childcare Strategy in England in 1998, little is known about the practicalities of managing childcare and employment from a parental perspective. It is not recognised that dependent children have to be physically transported from home to the place of care-education, and if transported by the parent the latter usually also has to travel to their workplace in a different location. This article discusses the complexity involved in coordinating these events, the barriers posed to maternal employment, and the strategies used by working parents to overcome the difficulties. It presents an analysis of qualitative data from in-depth interviews with 40 mothers in a middle-sized city in England. The analysis exposes the additional work involved in temporally, spatially and physically coordinating childcare, education and work. It indicates that early education related to children's ages might have a greater influence on coordination difficulties, and therefore maternal employment, than the numbers of children in a family per se. The article argues that policy makers need to have a greater regard for the time and space dimensions attached to coordination, the coordination support provided by fathers and others (as opposed to childcare), transport issues and the need for fully integrated early years provision in all neighbourhoods.