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Death From COVID-19 as Context for Early Childhood Education

Research conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), and funded by United Way, investigates the impact of COVID-19 on the Early Childhood Education (ECE) workforce.

Key Findings:

  • In a survey of ~250 ECE professionals, nearly one-third reported that a close friend or family member had died of COVID during the first year of the pandemic.
  • There was a high rate of economic hardship among these ECE professionals — 27% reported that in the last year they did not have enough money to pay their utility bills, and 24% did not have enough money to pay for health care for themselves or their family members. In addition, 17% reported having to hold a second job, 13% could not make their rent or mortgage payments, and 10% reported receiving SNAP benefits.
  • A quarter of these ECE staff reported 2 or more of these 5 economic hardships—not having enough money for housing, utilities, food, and health care, or having to hold a second job.
  • Those with more hardships were also more likely to have had a COVID death among their close friends or family.
  • Those who were not white were more likely than those who were white to have had a COVID death among their close friends or family.
  • Death, loss, and grief from COVID continue in the ongoing pandemic. These deaths and their consequences disproportionately affect those who are not white and those who are already under the most economic stress. The part of the adult population most impacted by COVID is the same part of the population that serves as the essential workers we have entrusted with the care and early education of young children.
  • For children to learn well, the ECE professionals who teach them must be well. We must respect that many ECE professionals will be working with young children while they are also grieving COVID deaths. These losses have affected the ECE workforce in a pattern that reflects their racial and socioeconomic inequity.

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