Child Care and COVID-19: Support Children by Investing in Early Educators and Program Sustainability
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the longstanding vulnerability of early care and education programs and inequities in the health and financial security of early educators. Addressing new and ongoing needs in the early care and education system (including schools, centers, and homes) is critical to supporting the well-being of children who rely on child care. Prior to March 2020, over 7.75 million children under 6 were cared for in regulated child care programs by one million early educators in center-based programs and one million paid home based early educators.1 While deemed an essential service, child care programs suffered volatile impacts of the pandemic without the support and existing infrastructure available to other businesses. Policy strategies for recovery and rebuilding must address the short- and long-term needs of child care programs and the early educators who work in them. Attention is needed to address disparities in the experiences of early educators who are Black and Hispanic. Actions to support programs and the workforce can ultimately benefit children and families served in child care.
1 National Survey of Early Care and Education Project Team. (2014). Characteristics of center-based early care and education programs: Initial findings from the National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) (Report No. 2014-73a). Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/opre/