Even in the best of times, the community-based organizations, nonprofits, and schools that run early childhood programs in this country operate on extremely thin margins. Because of COVID-19, they’re in crisis. Many are waiting desperately for families willing to sign up for in-person care or for the federal government to pass another stimulus bill. In a July survey, 40 percent of current early childhood providers said that without additional public assistance, they would close permanently. In that scenario, thousands of early educators would lose their primary source of income. The resulting loss would also have dire implications for parents and caregivers trying to go back to work — and for the economy.
Many countries have made universal access to pre-primary education a priority in recent years. Pre-primary education—often called pre-school or kindergarten—takes place during a major developmental period in a child’s life, typically ages 3 to 5. It can help reduce equity gaps by providing children with similar opportunities to learn, and by promoting further education. For example, in some developing countries, on-time enrollment in grade 1 is an issue; but when children participate in pre-primary education, they are much likelier to enroll in grade 1 on time. As governments like those in Bangladesh and Mozambique look to bolster their education systems, they hope to invest in programs that are backed by evidence.