The results of a recent study at Yale University have just been released, examining child care and the spread of COVID-19. The Institute is pleased to share information about this study, which was carried out in part in cooperation with the Aspire Registry.
A new study conducted by researchers at Yale University shows that child care programs that remained open during the COVID-19 pandemic did not contribute to the spread of the virus to providers.
The study, which was supported by the efforts of the National Workforce Registry Alliance (NWRA) and workforce registries throughout the country, was published this week on the website for Pediatrics, the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and is the first large-scale assessment of the risk to child care providers working throughout the pandemic.
The findings showed that exposure to child care was not associated with an elevated risk of spreading COVID-19 from children to adults, provided the child care programs took multiple safety measures, including disinfecting, handwashing, symptom screening, social distancing, mask-wearing, and limiting group size.
Early Childhood Workforce Registries, in collaboration with CCR&Rs and state AEYC chapters, across the country mobilized to elevate the voices of the providers. In total, Yale researchers surveyed 57,000 child care providers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, which represented 71.3% of America’s counties (2,241 of 3,141).
“This study was made possible by the state workforce registries, who are the strongest connecting link to actual providers. Through the support of 28 states, the National Workforce Registry Alliance (NWRA) was able to coordinate survey access to over 700,000 child care providers,” said Dr. Kimberlee Belcher-Badal, NWRA, Executive Director.
The study comes as policymakers are weighing the implications of reopening businesses and community institutions, sometimes without crucial data needed to assess risks and benefits. Fortunately, registries provide an important link to the workforce as well as workforce data. When tapped into, it can be used to inform policy decisions, put a finger on the pulse of workforce needs, and inform the field on workforce equity and pipeline demographics.
“Workforce registries act as the Emergency Broadcast System for early learning professionals,” said Dr. Walter Gilliam of the Yale University Child Study Center and the study’s lead author. “When centers shut down during an emergency or crisis, registries are how we can locate and contact child care providers with vital information.”
No differences in COVID-19 outcomes were observed between workers who continued to provide in-person care for young children and those who did not. These findings suggest that child care providers assume no heightened risk from their work – assuming that workplaces keep following core health and safety practices.
“Until now, decision makers had no way to assess whether opening child care centers would put staff at greater risk of contracting COVID-19,” Dr. Gilliam said. “This study tells us that as long as there are strong on-site measures to prevent infection, providing care for young children doesn’t seem to add to the provider’s risk of getting sick.”
The Alliance’s President and Registry Administrator for New York’s Aspire Registry, Diana Diaz, added, “Despite these encouraging study results, Child Care Providers are still being held accountable for increased efforts related to implementing pandemic infection control measures. The concern here is that we haven’t yet fortified the substance required to prevent vigilance fatigue and access points to the mental health support they need to sustain this effort over a longer period of time.” The Alliance has provided policy recommendations to help sustain the workforce.
The Yale Child Study Center at the Yale School of Medicine improves the mental health of children and families, advances understanding of their psychological and developmental needs, and treats and prevents childhood mental illness through the integration of research, clinical practice, and professional training. To learn more, visit medicine.yale.edu/childstudy/.
The National Workforce Registry Alliance is the unifying voice for state workforce registries who directly support the nation’s early childhood and afterschool workforce. The Alliance strengthens the early childhood network by acting as the central hub for workforce data collection and dissemination used to inform and strengthen the ECE and Afterschool workforce. As a national 501c3 organization, the Alliance is proud to have 41 state members and 17 PER recognized registries. The Alliance coordinates a national dataset composed of ECE and after school workforce data, while providing state standards for quality in data collection. Visit our website to learn more about our efforts and state workforce data systems www.registryalliance.org.