Ohio COVID-19 Child Care Study

Study Overview

Launched in July 2020, the Ohio COVID-19 Child Care Study featured a multidisciplinary team from Case Western Reserve University with the goal of better understanding how to lower the spread and lessen the impact of COVID-19 among families and staff affiliated with child care programs in the state. The team, with expertise in child health and wellbeing, environmental health, epidemiology, and infectious disease management and control, designed the rapid-response study that included (A) statewide examination of COVID-19 cases among child care staff and children attending child care and (B) in-depth analysis in 10 counties including data collection using qualitative and quantitative methods.

Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Incident Reporting Data were analyzed for all 88 Ohio counties from the start of the pandemic to November 13th, 2020. In-depth data within 10 counties were collected during a snapshot in time from August 15th-November 20th, 2020. Additional data will be collected from November 20-December 31, 2020 to continue monitoring the trends as community transmission of COVID-19 is rising.

  • What are the trends in COVID-19 transmission among child care programs operating in diverse contexts in Ohio?
  • What factors drive or limit the spread of COVID-19 in child care settings in diverse contexts in Ohio?
  • What are the perceptions of risk and safety among parents and caregivers and staff from child care programs in Ohio following their reopening after COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency?
  • What are the levels of child and caregiver stress and coping in response to COVID-19?

*Conducted during timeframe of low community transmission.

  • Compliance with COVID-19 mitigation strategies is keeping child care workers and children safe.
  • The prevalence of COVID-19 in child care programs in Ohio was low.
  • COVID-19 Cases in child care are higher among staff than children.
  • Community transmission of COVID-19 influences transmission risk within child care settings.
  • Child care workers provide critical infrastructure for Ohio's economy.
  • Additional support is needed for elementary-aged children doing remote learning in child care.

The multidisciplinary study team includes investigators from Case Western Reserve University who have expertise in child health and wellbeing, environmental health, epidemiology, and infectious disease management and control. The study draws on strong infrastructure at CWRU including the Mary Ann Swetland Center for Environmental Health, CWRU COVID-19 Taskforce, Cleveland Clinical and Translational Science CollaborativeSchubert Center for Child Studies, and the CWRU Center for AIDS Research. The team has extensive experience conducting community-based research across Ohio including primary data collection using diverse methods with families and children.


Principal Investigator

 Darcy Freedman, PhD, MPH



Study Advisors

Elaine Borawski, PhD

Kimberly Burkhart, PhD

Anastasia Dimitropoulos, PhD

Sonia Minnes, PhD

Nora Nock, PhD

Daniel Tisch, PhD, MPH

 Andrew Curtis, PhD

 Jonathan Karn, PhD

 Kristie Ross, MD


Freedman DA, Ciesielski TH, Yamoah O, Borawski EA, Ross KR, Nock NL, Lee EK, Dimitropoulos A, Minnes S, Burkhart K, Ogland-Hand C, Tisch DJ. Improving Surveillance and Epidemic Response in Ohio Childcare Settings. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(24):16927. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192416927

Yamoah O, Balser S, Ogland-Hand C, Doernberg E, Lewis-Miller C, Freedman DA. "A win-win for all of us": COVID-19 sheds light on the essentialness of child care as key infrastructure. Early Child Res Q. 2023 2nd Quarter;63:113-120. doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2022.12.001. 

Burkhart, K., Minnes, S., Yamoah, O., Doernberg, E., Balser, S., Ciesielski, T., Dimitropoulos, A., Nock, N. L., & Freedman, D. A. (2021). The effects of covid-19-related stress among parents and children in Ohio Child Care Programs: A mixed-methods study. Children's Health Care, 51(4), 362–384. https://doi.org/10.1080/02739615.2021.1997602