The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented public health emergency that crippled the child care market in the United States. This crisis highlighted the essential role of the early care and education workforce in the nation’s economic stability and growth. The pandemic’s disproportionate effect on Black, Hispanic, and Native American communities further raised racial and social justice concerns.
In January 2021, Urban Institute, Child Trends, and the Foundation for Child Development sponsored a virtual convening as a professional development opportunity for the Foundation’s Young Scholars Program (YSP). The 2021 convening brought together scholars and national, state, and local experts, including academics, policymakers, and practitioners, to discuss key issues affecting the ECE workforce before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Convening participants discussed the following issues:
- The ECE workforce suffers from structural wage and opportunity gaps.
- The COVID-19 pandemic worsened financial stability and equity among ECE providers and staff.
- A need for equitable pay exists, especially in the context of requiring higher credentials.
- The ECE workforce faces challenges to emotional well-being.
- ECE workforce well-being worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Supports for the ECE workforce exist during the pandemic and should continue after the pandemic.