Excerpted from abstract
This paper explores the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic for child development in the United States by way of changes in participation in centerbased child care and preschool, or early care and education (ECE). The pandemic appears to have reduced ECE enrollment and exacerbated existing inequalities in ECE participation. However, these effects have varied in timing across demographic groups and in intensity across states. The unique set of forces driving the participation declines – as well as pandemic impacts on ECE quality in addition to quantity – also suggest care in generalizing from pre-pandemic research findings when contemplating the impacts for child development. Prior research is still helpful, however, and it also offers frameworks for understanding the drivers of more localized ECE effects and their implications. I conclude with thoughts on the long-standing challenges in ECE that were brought into sharp relief by the pandemic.