The COVID-19 crisis upended life for young children, their families, and the early care and education (ECE) programs that serve them. Leaders need a clear understanding of the pandemic’s impact, particularly as the Biden administration makes historic investments in ECE. To meet this need, a team of early childhood experts synthesized findings from 76 high-quality studies, spanning 16 national studies, 45 studies from 31 states, and 15 local studies. The experts then collaborated with ECE policy and practice leaders from multiple states to identify actionable, evidence-backed, and equity-centered solutions for addressing young children’s immediate needs, stabilizing hard-hit ECE programs, supporting early educators, and mitigating longer term ramifications of the crisis. Finally, the research team offered suggestions to guide future research on the ongoing effects of the crisis and recovery efforts.
The equity-centered, evidence-backed solutions for mitigating the effects that the research team details include actionable recommendations aimed at accelerating children’s learning, supporting the whole child, partnering with families, increasing support to the workforce, and accelerating the creation of a coherent ECE system. In the short term, this project aims to help policymakers make evidence-informed choices about how to leverage new resources. Ultimately, it aims to support efforts to build a stronger ECE system that meets the needs of all children and families and that supports all ECE programs and teachers to provide the high-quality learning opportunities young children need to thrive.