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Early Education and Child Care: The Essential Sector


May 2020 | Committee for Economic Development

The COVID-19 crisis has been a nearly unprecedented disruption to American education at all levels. By early May, according to one estimate, 45 states and the District of Columbia had ordered or recommended school closures through at least the end of the current school year, affecting close to 50 million public school students.1 Many colleges and universities closed campuses or moved to online-only instruction in March. Disruptions to early childhood learning have also been widespread. Public pre-K programs attended by 1.6 million children nationwide were closed to help stop the community spread of COVID-19.2 Roughly one-third of children under age five typically receive services in an organized child care facility—including preschool classrooms.3



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