Child Care Facilities Can Be Safe and Are Essential

Kid getting ready for school with facemask

Child care programs can be safe within the context of low community transmission of COVID-19, according to new research from Case Western Reserve University, based on data from child care programs throughout Ohio.

The study took place from Aug. 15 to Nov. 20, during a timeframe of relatively low community transmission of COVID-19.

The team found COVID-19 infection rates at child care programs have been low as a result of:
  • Clear and comprehensive state guidelines for mitigating transmission within child care settings;
  • Streamlined reporting of cases to monitor trends;
  • Resources to support adherence to state guidelines; and
  • High compliance with these guidelines by child care workers and families.

The Case Western Reserve study was funded by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and supported by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS). The study relied on a sample of child care facilities that mirrors a mix of urban, suburban, and rural settings found across the country, offering insight into child care experiences nationally.

“We all have seen reports from across the country of vast numbers of parents—mostly women—dropping out of the workforce during the pandemic to care for their children as schools and child care facilities closed,” said Darcy Freedman, professor of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health, who served as the principal investigator of the study. “How to reopen and stay open safely is important to tens of thousands of families across the state and hundreds of thousands of families across the country.”

Key recommendations based on the study findings:
  • Maintain child care capacity to fully comply with COVID-19 mitigation strategies;
  • Develop a supply chain for affordable personal protective equipment and cleaning materials, allowing child care programs to uphold rigorous hygiene and sanitizing procedures;
  • Standardize communication about COVID-19 disseminated through child care programs;
  • Expand workforce pipeline for child care staffing during the pandemic. 

To review a data brief with the full study findings, please visit our Ohio COVID-19 Child Care Study site.