NAEYC Pandemic Surveys
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From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NAEYC has remained committed to understanding and sharing the breadth of the crisis and the challenges child care programs are facing across states and settings. You can access the findings from our 2020-2022 surveys of child care providers below and some resources on solutions here:
- Compensation Matters Most: Why and How States Should Use Child Care Relief Funding to Increase Compensation for the ECE Workforce (June 2021)
- Supporting Your Child Care Business with Federal Relief Funds (CCAoA and NAEYC)
*NEW* BRIEF: Uncertainty Ahead Means Instability Now: Why Families, Children, Educators, Businesses, and States Need Congress to Fund Child Care
Released: November 2022
In October 2022, more than 12,000 early childhood educators from all states and settings—including faith-based programs, family child care homes, Head Starts, and child care centers—responded to a new ECE field survey from NAEYC. The results of this survey continue to show that relief helped, but uncertainty about the future is impacting the present. Staffing shortages caused by low compensation are leading to supply shortages that negatively impact families’ ability to work, children’s access to safe and quality care, and educators’ health and well-being. Far too many educators are considering leaving the field, threatening an exodus that—if not reversed with the support of public investments in the ECE workforce—will deepen the supply, quality, and affordability crises for years to come.
Continue to check back for deep dives on how specific communities are being impacted, including educators working with infants and toddlers, Spanish-speaking educators, and educators working in family child care settings.
Saved But Not Solved: America’s Economy Needs Congress to Fund Child Care
Released: February 2022
In January 2022, as the Omicron COVID-19 variant surged, nearly 5,000 early childhood educators working across all states and settings—including faith-based programs, family child care homes, and small and large centers—responded to a brief check-in survey from NAEYC. The results of this survey show that emergency federal and state relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs and prevented more widespread permanent program closures. However, Congress must now make the substantial, sustainable, long-term investments in affordable, high-quality child care and preK that are urgently needed for a successful and equitable economic recovery. If they do not, then the relief funds that are making such a difference now will have only delayed the collapse of our current child care system, and children, parents, educators, and businesses will pay the price, both immediately and far into the future. As these survey results and stories indicate, these investments cannot wait until another day and time.
- 60% of respondents (2,927) worked in child care centers and family child care homes that received stabilization grants through the American Rescue Plan. Of those, 92% said that the grants helped their program stay open.
- Two-thirds of respondents reported experiencing a staffing shortage that affected their ability to serve families; 52% of those with staffing shortages were forced to serve fewer children while 37% had a longer waiting list.
- 75% of respondents reported that the end of stabilization grants would have a negative or highly negative effect on their programs. Of the respondents who said they knew enough about Build Back Better’s investments in child care and preK to answer the question, 89% agreed that it would “secure the future of our program,” including 86% of respondents from family child care homes and 85% of respondents from faith- based programs.
Progress and Peril: Child Care at a Crossroads
Released: July 2021 (state data updated with stories from the field released September 2021)
Federal and state relief funds have provided critical support for stabilizing child care programs and preventing more widespread permanent program closures, but they are just the beginning of what is needed to recover and rebuild. NAEYC’s newest survey, completed by more than 7,500 respondents between June 17 and July 5, 2021, working across all states and settings, shows that child care’s struggle to survive continues.
- Four out of every five child care centers said that they had a staffing shortage, and 78% of respondents identified low wages as the main obstacle to recruitment of educators, while 81% percent said it's the reason they leave.
- More than one in every three respondents said they were considering leaving or shutting down their child care programs this year, and over half of minority-owned programs are reckoning with the possibility of permanent closure.
Now is the moment for Congress to act, by building on relief, and making the bold, sustainable, and necessary investments in quality child care and early learning that will respond to our communities’ short and long term needs and support families’ economic security and children’s success.
Please note the variation in the total number of individuals from the national survey to the state survey data. More than 10,000 individuals participated in the survey during the time that it was open. However, the number of responses from six states was well above the mean, so a smaller random sample from those states was selected for the national-level analysis to minimize a skew in the data results. All respondents are included in the state-level analyses, which is why the total number of respondents in the state-by-state data is greater than the number of respondents referenced in the national data analysis. For additional information on the survey methodology, please see page 3 of the national “Progress and Peril” brief. In addition, because this survey was entirely voluntary and results in a nonrandomized sample, NAEYC recommends continuing to seek official sources from states tracking data such as program closures, enrollment, and attendance.
Sacrificing to Stay Open, Child Care Providers Face a Bleak Future Without Relief
Released: December 2020
The essential yet chronically undervalued child care sector has sacrificed and struggled to serve children and families since the start of the COVID pandemic. NAEYC’s newest survey, completed between November 13–29, 2020, by more than 6,000 respondents working in child care centers and family child care homes shows that the crisis facing child care is as consistent and devastating today as it was in March and in July. With 56% of child care centers saying they are losing money every day that they remain open, programs are confronting an unsustainable reality, even as they are taking desperate measures - putting supplies on credit cards, drawing down personal savings, and laying off staff - to remain viable for the children and families they serve. Yet despite the steps they are taking to save themselves, the math on their bottom line does not work, and federal relief is needed to stabilize and support this essential sector.
Families Suffer Without Relief from Congress
Released: September and October 2020
In the absence of federal relief, struggling child care programs trying to remain open to serve children and families in their communities are being faced with stark choices. Learn more about what programs are doing, and how families are paying the price via two one pagers from NAEYC based on our survey data and follow-ups: Families Suffer Without Relief From Congress and Child Care Programs Are Being Forced to Raise Tuition or Close for Good.
Brief: Holding On Until Help Comes: A Survey Reveals Child Care’s Fight to Survive
Released: July 13, 2020
The lack of sufficient public investment in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced child care programs, educators, and families into a series of impossible choices with devastating consequences. Only 18% of programs are confident they will be able to stay open past a year without public assistance. 50% of minority-owned programs are certain they will have to close without the help they need. 86% of child care programs who responded to our survey are serving fewer children now than they were prior to the pandemic and 63% of programs across all settings expect to be operating at or below 80% of enrollment past the end of this summer. This data makes it clear that if help doesn’t come soon in order to save child care, there will be little left of child care to save.
- NEW State-by-state data from the June survey is available as a PDF here and can also be accessed via this interactive map.
Child Care & the Paycheck Protection Program
Released: May 12, 2020
A NAEYC brief highlights the experiences of nearly 500 child care programs across the country who have applied for the Paycheck Protection Program. Based on respondent feedback, we have learned that while the PPP has bought some child care programs critical time with which to pay themselves and their employees and cover some of their fixed costs, entire segments of the market, particularly family child care homes, have been essentially unable to access the program and its benefits.
The viability of child care programs—and therefore the viability of our nation’s economy—is dependent on substantial, additional, and direct investments, and we look forward to working with Congress to make these investments a reality.
From the Front Lines: The Ongoing Effect of the Pandemic on Child Care
Released: April 17, 2020
NAEYC releases survey data that explores the ongoing impact of the pandemic and the solutions that have been put forth so far. From April 2–10, 2020 more than 5,000 providers responded to the survey, from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Together, these survey respondents alone serve upwards of 215,000 children.
At this point in time, nearly 50% of respondents reported that their program was completely closed, with an additional 17% closed to everyone except children of essential personnel. Of programs that remained open in some way, 85% of respondents reported that they were operating at less than 50% of their enrollment capacity.
- A State-by-State Look at the Ongoing Effects of the Pandemic on Child Care is available as a PDF here and an interactive map here.
Child Care in Crisis: Understanding the Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic
National Brief released: March 17, 2020; State-by-State Brief released on March 31, 2020
On March 12, 2020, as the country was beginning to recognize the ways in which the spread of the coronavirus would jeopardize lives and livelihoods, NAEYC developed a brief survey asking child care programs to share the challenges they were expecting to face and to comment on what they needed to protect children, families, and our nation’s supply of child care programs.
By March 25, 2020 11,500 individuals from all 50 states and the District of Columbia had responded to the survey, 34% of whom work in center-based child care, and 53% who work in family child care homes.
Ultimately, nearly 50% of respondents noted that they would not survive a closure of more than two weeks without significant public investment and support that would allow them to compensate and retain staff, pay rent or mortgages, and cover other fixed costs. An additional quarter of respondents did not know how long they could close and still re-open without support.
- Initial national data, is summarized in this “Child Care in Crisis” brief alongside NAEYC’s initial recommendations for state action, dated March 15, 2020.
- A State-by-State Look at Child Care in Crisis: Understanding Early Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic is available as a PDF version, as well as on this interactive map.