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Early care and education workers’ experience and stress during the COVID-19 pandemic


Early care and education (ECE) workers experience many job-related stressors. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ECE programs either closed or remained open while workers faced additional demands. We deployed a survey of the center-based ECE workforce in Washington State (United States) one year into the COVID-19 pandemic to assess impacts and workers’ perceived stress levels. We describe the prevalence of reported impacts, including workplace closures; job changes; COVID-19 transmission; risk factors for severe COVID-19; the use of social distancing practices; satisfaction with workplace responses; perceptions of worker roles, respect, and influence; and food and financial insecurity. Themes from open-ended responses illustrate how workers’ jobs changed and the stressors that workers experienced as a result. Fifty-seven percent of ECE workers reported moderate or high levels of stress. In a regression model assessing unique contributions to stress, work changes that negatively impacted home life contributed most to stress. Feeling respected for one’s work and feeling positive about one’s role as an “essential worker” contributed to lower levels of stress. Experiencing financial insecurity, caring for school-aged children or children of multiple ages, being younger, and being born in the United States also contributed to higher stress. Findings can inform policies designed to support the workforce. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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