Analyzing data on child care operations in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to better understand the effect of COVID-19 on child care programs during the shutdown and reopening as parents try to return to work.
After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many child care providers closed, but as states ease lockdowns, providers are planning to reopen and scale up their operations. Child care will be essential for families trying to return to work. Starting Point, an early education agency that provides out-of-school time resource and referral agency for children, will collect and analyze data on child care operations in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, to better understand the effect of COVID-19 and the reopening of child care programs.
Partnering with Case Western Reserve University, Starting Point will employ two strategies for data collection. First, the research team will convene an advisory group with representatives from the child care community to get their advice on how to focus the study and interpret findings. Second, the team will conduct a child care capacity and vacancy survey of all licensed child care programs (approximately 600) and registered child care homes (approximately 350) in the county. The survey will ask respondents how COVID-19 affected their operations and their plans for reopening. The research team will also use the ChildHood Integrated Longitudinal Data (CHILD) integrated data system to estimate the number of children ages 3 to 5 in need of child care by neighborhood as well as the use of public child care subsidies. The program-level data will be analyzed at the neighborhood level to identify areas where large gaps exist between available child care slots and the projected demand for care. Using Local Employment Dynamics data, the research team will also look at neighborhood-level child care needs based on household type and worker employment categories. The team will communicate survey results back to stakeholders in the child care community to make them aware of challenges and opportunities identified by their peers.
Stakeholders who support the quality enhancement of child care programs will benefit from the data. Such stakeholders include Invest in Children (administered by the Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood) and PRE4CLE (an initiative promoting high-quality preschool in Cleveland). The project will assist child care program operators and inform regional foundations and advocacy efforts in the early childhood space.