Timely Resources on the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Early Care and Education

Foundation for Child Development Grants in Action

The following resources are about the effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on early care and education (ECE) programs and young children and their families. These reports provide key lessons learned for sustaining children’s learning and high-quality ECE programs during the first year of the pandemic.

Effects of COVID-19 on Early Childhood Education Centers
policy brief released by the Education Policy Initiative at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy highlights the experience of community-based organizations implementing the Boston Universal Prekindergarten (UPK) program during the pandemic. A range of strategies and supports helped the centers navigate a challenging pandemic context of teacher and administrator turnover, decreased child enrollment, and increased health and safety practices. As full funding for UPK seats and child-care subsidy slots remained throughout the pandemic, the researchers explain how the findings likely represent a “best-case scenario” of how ECE programs experienced the pandemic.

Going to School During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The High Quality Early Learning Project released Going to School During the COVID-19 Pandemic, featuring early educators and children from the Child Care Center at Lehman College at The City University of New York. This three-part video collection highlights in-person classroom practices during the pandemic promoting children’s learning, health, and safety. It includes:

  • “School Policies and Practices to Stay Safe” focusing on strategies the center implemented to keep the children, their families, and the educators safe.
  • “Life in a Three’s Classroom” highlighting classroom practices that helped to enforce safety measures while supporting high-quality early learning experiences and early childhood development.
  • “Making the Case for High Quality Early Childhood Education” explaining why system-wide supports are needed to ensure that high-quality early childhood education thrives.

Seven Impacts of the Pandemic on Young Children and their Parents: Initial Findings from NIEER’s December 2020 Preschool Learning Activities Survey

The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education released a report about the pandemic’s effect on preschool education based on the results of a nationwide parent survey. Results indicate that during this past academic year children lost learning opportunities both at home and in preschool programs and parents faced hardships in supporting their children’s learning.

NIEER’s report summarizes key findings and identifies seven impacts of the pandemic on young children and their parents:

  1. Participation in center-based preschool programs remained substantially below pre-pandemic levels and much of what did occur was not in-person.
  2. Support for young children with disabilities appears to have suffered.
  3. Many more young children had high levels of social and emotional difficulties than expected.
  4. Preschool programs continue to struggle with assuring all young children eligible for either free or reduced-price meals get them.
  5. Parents had considerable difficulty with their children’s preschool programs — particularly if their children were attending remotely.
  6. Among the hardships parents reported from the pandemic, the most common was getting less work done due to child care and education issues.
  7. Fewer parents reported reading to their children and teaching their children pre-academic skills.