Rockville, Md. – Today, the Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at the Harvard Graduate School of Education released findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard’s (ELS@H’s) COVID-19 early education and care (EEC) provider and parent surveys. The survey effort was designed and conducted in collaboration with Abt Associates to describe the impacts of the pandemic on children, families, and EEC providers in Massachusetts, which experienced one of the earliest and most widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 in the United States.
“The reports are full of data and insights into how families and educators are managing COVID, both emotionally and logistically,” said Kerry Hofer, Ph.D., who directs the ELS@H project for Abt Associates.
“These reports are the first in a series; additional findings and implications will be released in the coming weeks,” said Amy Checkoway, MPP, principal investigator on the project at Abt Associates.
Below are just some of the findings from this first round:
- 42% of parents/guardians of young children reported having a family member in the household who lost a job or experienced reduced employment, and this percentage was substantially higher among lower-income families. A sizable proportion of parents and guardians with family incomes less than $30,000 agreed that their family needed support finding or paying for food (31%), finding or paying for housing (26%), or finding or paying for childcare (17%).
- On a brighter note, lower-income families reported the highest levels of school and teacher outreach (87% were in touch with the teacher to discuss their child’s progress) and school provision of learning technology for their children.
- 90% of parents said their children’s total screen time increased during the pandemic, including:
- 64% reported an increase in time spent watching TV shows or movies
- 37% reported an increase in time spent playing video games and 47% reported an increase in time spent watching videos on the computer
- EEC providers across sectors are experiencing negative impacts related to the pandemic, particularly licensed family child care programs (87% of whom reported that their incomes had been affected).
- Regardless of their own current employment situation, EEC providers reported that they continued to engage with families remotely.
“These surveys highlight the turmoil experienced by families of young children across the state, as well as the dedication of EEC providers as they help to support young children, even from afar,” said Hofer.
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a global consulting and research firm that uses data and bold thinking to improve the quality of people’s lives. From assessing the quality of early childhood settings and conducting rigorous program evaluations to inform policy to combatting infectious disease and promoting access to affordable housing—and more—we partner with clients and communities to tackle their most complex challenges. https://www.abtassociates.com
Mary F. Maguire