Historic Crisis, Historic Opportunity: Using Evidence to Mitigate the Effects of the COVID-19 Crisis on Young Children and Early Care and Education Programs

Since March 2020, researchers have produced more than 300 reports on the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on young children’s learning and on the early care and education (ECE) programs that serve them. Very quickly, ECE leaders facing the urgent day-to-day demands of COVID-19 response also faced a deluge of evidence—far more than they could efficiently find, sort, and use.

To help provide policymakers with a clear understanding of the pandemic’s effects on young children’s learning and ECE programs, our team of 16 early childhood experts and 10 early childhood policy leaders recently released a summary of this evidence base. We reviewed 76 high-quality studies in depth, spanning 16 national studies, 45 studies in 31 states, and 15 local studies. Our work illuminated a national story of learning setbacks and unmet needs, for which we offered evidence-backed, equity-centered policy solutions.

Together with partners at the Education Policy Initiative at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, we present findings on the effects of the pandemic on young children’s learning experiences and outcomes, ECE programs, and early educators in the following products:

To publicize the findings from this synthesis, Urban hosted a webinar on June 21, 2021, with recording available here.