Examining Anxiety Among Minnesota Child Care Providers During COVID-19

Research BriefEarly ChildhoodNov 10 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed child care services in Minnesota and across the nation. The Minnesota Child Care Policy Research Partnership project team wanted to better understand how child care providers might have experienced anxiety, both to document the prevalence of anxiety in child care providers during a difficult time in the pandemic and to offer considerations to policymakers about how to support child care providers’ well-being.


We invited Minnesota child care providers[1] to complete a survey in the summer of 2020. Using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder–7 (GAD-7) scale, we asked respondents questions regarding the levels of anxiety they may have been experiencing at that time, as well as other aspects of their experience of the pandemic and program operations. This brief summarizes key findings from this survey. We offer considerations for policymakers who are dedicating federal, state, and local resources to supporting the child care field, including individual providers’ mental health.

Key Findings

  • 17 percent of respondents indicated moderate or severe anxiety (GAD-7 score of 10+).
  • Providers who were not confident in implementing new COVID health and safety practices were 2.18 times more likely to be clinically anxious than those who expressed confidence.
  • Providers who indicated they were likely to close their child care business were more likely to be anxious than providers whose businesses were not likely to close.
  • Providers who had participated in any professional development since the pandemic began were more likely to be anxious than those who had not participated in professional development.
  • Family child care providers were less likely to be anxious than center-based providers.
  • Rural and urban providers had similar odds of feeling anxious.
  • Providers who declined to provide their race/ethnicity information were more likely to be anxious than the comparison group of non-Hispanic White providers. Compared to non-Hispanic White providers, Hispanic, Native American, Asian, and Multiracial providers appeared to have higher odds of feeling anxious, however, there was not sufficient sample size for the research team to have certainty in these findings.


[1] Center-based and home-based child care providers who applied to the Peacetime Emergency Child Care Grant program (PECC) were invited to complete the survey. Minnesota created the PECC grant program to help child care providers withstand the financial burden caused by the pandemic and distributed the first round of funds in April 2020. A total of 1,898 center-based and family child care grant applicants (36%) completed the survey between July 31, 2020 and September 9, 2020. Among the respondents, 58 percent applied for and received the grant (PECC Grant recipients) and 42 percent applied but did not receive the grant (nonrecipients).