The Straus Center for Young Children & Families conducts and promotes practice-oriented, policy-relevant, and equity-committed research, with a particular concern for inequities and traumas caused by the interaction of systemic racism, classism, ableism, and misogyny.
Mark K. Nagasawa
This is the second in a series of reports discussing findings from a June 2021 survey sent to New York Aspire Registry members who work in NYC (n=663). It also follows up on Forgotten Frontline Workers, a report issued last year which focused on family child care (FCC) professionals’ experiences earlier in the pandemic. The results discussed in this report come from a self-selected sample (n=97), and cannot be used to draw conclusions about all FCC professionals in NYC; however, their value comes from recognizing each of these participants’ humanity and the important policy-relevant issues they raise for discussion:
- Consistent with last year, FCC professionals were significantly more affected economically than other respondents
- The odds of FCC professionals primarily working with infants and toddlers were 5.7 times higher than other survey participants.
- 79% reported negative emotional effects from the pandemic, with 77% saying they experienced 5 or more of the 11 stressors identified in the survey
- Significantly fewer reported an optimistic future orientation and more reported that they were suffering or struggling when compared with other early childhood educators in the survey
- While most certainly negatively affected by the pandemic, this group of FCC professionals was significantly less negatively affected emotionally than others.
- 46.3% agreed or strongly agreed that they received helpful support from a representative of the system (e.g., a coach, licensing consultant, etc.)
When considered in total, the findings in this report show a picture of fortitude in the face of very real economic, social, and personal stressors.
Mark K. Nagasawa
This is the summary report for the second year of the Listening to Teachers Study which asks how early childhood educators in New York City (NYC) have been faring through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The study’s purpose has been to seek deeper understandings of what NYC’s early care and education (ECE) workforce has experienced during the Pandemic to inform decision-making about the city's future ECE systems by raising issues for reflection and action-oriented discussion.
The study has followed a multistage, exploratory-mixed methods design, incorporating: 1) ongoing consultation with ECE stakeholders to incorporate questions of interest to them – and their reactions to emerging findings; 2) a survey focused on understanding nuances in the workforce and how these might relate to well-being and coping (June 2021, n=663); and 3) in-depth interviews with racially minoritized educators, given the Pandemic’s disproportionate effects on communities of color (Spring 2022, n=28).
These data were analyzed through an iterative, constant comparative method that combined descriptive and inferential statistics with mixed deductive-inductive analysis of open-ended survey questions and interview transcripts. Among the key findings:
- 86% reported being affected by 5 or more (of 11) economic, health, social, and emotional stressors.
- 32% had a household income below $35K – in New York City.
- FCC professionals far more frequently worked with infants and toddlers than other survey contributors; were weathering more economic stresses; and reported significantly higher rates of suffering and struggling.
- 61% reported not feeling burned out in June 2021; however, the odds of program leaders indicating potential burnout were 1.7 times higher than all others.
- Support from supervisors and system representatives (e.g., coaches) reduced the odds of someone reporting potential burnout.
Mark K. Nagasawa, Flora Farago, and Lacey Peters
This introduces a special issue of the International Critical Childhood Policy Studies Journal dedicated to the scholarship of generosity. It takes the form of a Festschrift in honor of Professor Beth Blue Swadener, whose career, steeped in scholar-activism and reciprocal mentorship, exemplifies this sorely needed praxis (theory into practice) in a world both literally and socially afire. However, while this collection exists to honor one person, it is of broader interest and significance to scholars and students in critical childhood policy studies, for it is simultaneously a hopeful illustration of the ripples made by one person’s lifework, and a call to action for scholars to live up to higher education’s social responsibilities (Boyer, 1990; Fitzpatrick, 2021; Kromydas, 2017; Patel, 2021). The issue’s ultimate purpose is to provide examples that cause readers to think, I’m already doing that. I know others who are doing that. I’d like to do that.
Mark K. Nagasawa
This third report from the Listening to Teachers study’s second year focuses on a subsample of early childhood program leaders (n=113) in NYC. Among the key findings in this report:
- Support from supervisors lowered the odds of survey participants reporting potential burnout.
- However, the odds of program leaders reporting potential burnout were 1.7 times higher than for other respondents.
- The odds of Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC) respondents being in leadership roles were significantly less than their white colleagues.
While this study's self-selected sample makes these findings ungeneralizable, they do raise the critically important question, What is being done to support directors, in particular BIPOC leaders? How this question is addressed has implications on documented racial bias in ECE hiring practices, which may further relate to the emerging literature showing the importance of racial, cultural, and linguistic mirrors in the classroom for Black and Latine children.
This conference paper was presented at the 2021 meeting of the American Educational Research Association. It shares findings from a mixed method, exploratory study that sought to understand how New York State's early childhood (ECE) workforce was faring early in the COVID-19 pandemic (n=3,555). This was a project of the New York City Early Childhood Research Network, a research practitioner partnership organized to create evidence-informed early childhood public policy. Among the key findings were high levels of reported stress, for instance those working remotely were approximately one-and-a-half times more likely to rate their emotional well-being negatively than those whose settings were closed (95% CI 1.157, 1.896) and a strong desire for mental health support.
Towards gaining further understanding of respondents' experiences, we used statistical analyses to inform the analysis of the survey's textual data resulting in six themes: (1) Consequences of Social Distancing; (2) Commitment; (3) Time-Space Compression; (4) Working the Second Shift; (5) Mis/communication; and (6) Policies' Effects on Well-Being. It is important to note that each of these themes included substantive evidence of resilience (e.g., creative transition to remote ECE, support for each other, support to families, etc.), but the focus in this paper is on the pandemic's adverse effects because of 1) a general tendency to expect educators to show resilience as a part of their jobs; and 2) because of the relative inattention being paid to educators' well-being, both for themselves and the children they care for and teach. While these findings should be treated cautiously, as these analyses are based upon a nonprobability (self-selected) sample, the issues respondents raised have broader policy implications that warrant ongoing attention, most notably the need to reorient ECE systems towards healing-centered interaction (i.e., promoting racial equity, attuned interactions, broadened accessibility, and fostering experiences of belonging and well-being).
This is the latest in a series of reports from the Listening to Teachers Study, which seeks understanding of how New York City's early childhood educators are faring during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study is to use data gathered through surveys (May 2020, n=3355; June 2021, n=663) and in-depth interviews (spring 2022) to prompt reflection and discussion about what a more equitable post-pandemic ECE system could look like.
This report focuses on describing the June 2021 sample and preliminary findings:
- As in 2020, emotional/mental health support was the most frequently requested need, but professional mental health services were the least identified approach to coping;
- Social support from colleagues was high, with 69% feeling supported by co-workers and 59% by their supervisors;
- Increasing social support from ECE systems is an area of opportunity (38% felt supported by "the system"); and
- While 61% reported not feeling burned out in June, this still left 244 directors, teachers, assistants, and family childcare professionals at potential risk of burning out.
These preliminary findings raise questions about what early childhood educators are experiencing now; how experiences differed by subgroups; what factors are associated with well-being; and what is in place - or could be - to reach those who are struggling and to support those who reported that they were thriving, to keep them thriving. These and other questions will be addressed in subsequent reports.
This infographic summarizes some themes from a survey conducted with early childhood educators across New York in May 2020, when 65% of programs reported providing online ECE. While respondents expressed clear needs for support in providing technologically-mediated ECE - including tech support, curricular, materials, and hardware - they also displayed three key components of any ECE, commitments to relationships, flexibility, and creativity. This highlights a critical need to document educators' many creative approaches and lessons learned from the pandemic.
Executive Summary: New York Early Care and Education Survey: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on New York's Early Childhood System
Kate Tarrant and Mark Nagasawa
This is an abbreviated version of the first report based upon the New York COVID-19 and Early Care & Education Survey.
This is an infographic summarizing findings from a survey conducted in May 2020 (n=3355) about how the COVID-19 was affecting early childhood educators in New York. Unsurprisingly, the survey responses reflected respondents' multimodal creativity and professional commitment to connecting with children's families. Responses also suggested some underlying tensions, such as school-centric notions of family engagement (i.e., more academically focused) vs. family-centric perspectives (i.e., offering emotional and material support to families). Ultimately the survey's contribution lies in shedding some light on important, difficult-to-resolve issues that must be debated as the world moves towards "post" pandemic life (e.g., services, supports, and accessibility for dis/abled young children; supporting emerging multilingualism; demands on parents' time - including parents who were teachers balancing their children's teachers' engagement expectations).
Mark Nagasawa and Kate Tarrant
This the third report from the New York ECE and COVID-19 Survey, which focuses on both the unique challenges faced by the family child care (FCC) providers who participated in the survey, as well as their particular resilience. At the time of the survey (May 2020), this group of participants was the most physically open form of ECE and was significantly more affected economically than their other ECE colleagues. Interestingly, several of the survey respondents (in different geographic locations) spoke of organizing efforts for mutual support and collective action, which may be a promising development for reducing social isolation, increasing information sharing, and promoting more equitable policy making for this sector.
New York Early Care and Education Survey: Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on New York Early Childhood System
Kate Tarrant and Mark Nagasawa
This is the first in a series of reports based upon a survey conducted with 3355 early childhood educators across New York City and New York State, which sought to understand how they were faring during the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic (May 2020). Among the key findings were: (1) at that time the emotional stress of the pandemic was affecting respondents more than health and financial stressors; (2) Educators’ need for mental health supports exceed other areas of support requested; (3) approximately 70% were engaged in remote instruction in New York City and half were providing remote instruction in the rest of state; (4) approximately 1 in 5 program leaders reported that their program was closed and providing no services; (5) remote learning was prevalent, and staff were committed to, but struggling with, delivering engaging and developmentally meaningful approaches; (6) respondents were struggling to meet administrative demands, particularly related to documentation; (7) partnering with families was challenging, given varied circumstances and limited access to resources and learning materials; (8) approximately 60% of program leaders reported they were fully paying their staff; and (9) programs funded through parent fees were most frequently closed and had furloughed or laid off staff.
Who Will Care for the Early Care and Education Workforce? COVID-19 and the Need to Support Early Childhood Educators’ Emotional Well-being
Mark Nagasawa and Kate Tarrant
This brief report describes issues and opportunities related to early childhood educators' emotional well-being that emerged from a survey exploring how the COVID-19 was affecting early educators across New York City and New York State (n=3355). Among our key findings were: (1) that mental health support was the most frequently identified need (n=910); (2) professional mental health was the least reported approach to coping (n=216); and (3) how those teaching and caring remotely were approximately one-and-a- half times more likely to rate their emotional well-being as lower than those whose sites were closed (CI 95% 1.157, 1.896). We argue, given the impacts that teachers reported and the scale of the pandemic, that a trauma-informed systems perspective is needed in order to support early childhood educators.