Analyzing data on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the early care and education system and child outcomes in Hartford, Connecticut.
After more than 100 years of housing discrimination and redlining policies, Hartford, Connecticut, remains a racially segregated city with a high concentration of Black and Latino households. A long history of community disinvestment has led to concentrated poverty and constrained educational and economic opportunities for its residents. This situation was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which strained many community support systems including the early care and education (ECE) system. Ensuring that all families have access to high-quality ECE programming in this difficult time will help promote equity in children’s school readiness and their lifelong employment, earnings, and health outcomes.
To understand the impacts of the pandemic on Hartford’s ECE system and children’s outcomes and to co-create community-based solutions, the Connecticut Data Collaborative (CTData) is embarking on a research project in partnership with the City of Hartford’s Division of Young Children. CTData is a Hartford-based nonprofit striving to support informed decisionmaking across Connecticut by democratizing access to public data and building data literacy. Hartford’s Division of Young Children is a municipal department that oversees the city’s early childhood initiatives and implements a coordinated early childhood plan.
The project team will collect and analyze administrative data, survey Hartford child care providers, and convene focus groups with parents of young children in the city to address the following questions:
How has the pandemic disrupted Hartford’s ECE system, including through site closures, drops in enrollment or attendance, increased staffing shortages, and heightened staff stress levels?
Have young children (birth to age 5) been exhibiting greater emotional-behavioral problems and developmental delays since the onset of the pandemic than they were before the pandemic?
What systems changes does the ECE industry need to support an equitable pandemic recovery for Hartford’s young children?
The team will also examine how the impacts of the pandemic differ by neighborhood, children’s race and ethnicity, and family income level. CTData will share findings from the project with Hartford city agencies, community organizations, child care providers, and parents of young children through a series of data walks, with the intention of co-creating solutions toward an equitable pandemic recovery for Hartford’s young children.