The Pandemic’s Effects on Early Educators’ Employment and Well-Being

Findings from the District of Columbia Child Care Policy Research Partnership

This brief describes how the COVID-19 pandemic affected DC early educators based on a 2021 survey of teaching staff (N = 417) in licensed child development centers and homes that participate in DC’s quality rating and improvement system, Capital Quality. Around one year after the pandemic began, about 78 percent of survey respondents were still working in their child care jobs and 18 percent were not working but planned to return. Another 4 percent had recently left their jobs. Nearly half reported reductions in their work hours and a decrease in their household income during the pandemic, triggering financial hardship and a risk of food insecurity for some early educators. Some lacked health insurance and access to sufficient paid time off to cover an illness. The findings suggest a recovery in the employment of DC early educators but highlight the struggles of this critical workforce as they continue to face low wages, limited employee benefits, and for some, unsupportive working conditions.


For more information on survey findings and related research, see the DC Child Care Policy Research Partnership project page.