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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Early Care and Education Programs During COVID-19: Persistent Inequities and Emerging Challenges


This report takes a closer look at the impact of COVID-19 on early care and education (ECE) programs, staffing and disparities using data collected by the Center by the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) through the 2020 California Early Care and Education Workforce Study.

The ECE system has been under-resourced and undervalued since well before the pandemic (McLean et al., 2021). Low pay and poor working environment have long plagued the ECE industry as key drivers of chronic high turnover rates and teacher staffing shortages in the field (U.S. Department of Treasury, 2021). Additional disparities within the system place providers on vastly different financial footing as a function of the type of program in which they operate, their access to public funding, and characteristics of the families they serve (Austin et al., 2018Whitebook et al., 2014). The pandemic has exacerbated these pre-existing issues.

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