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As California policymakers start to chart a path forward beyond COVID-19, it is important to first understand and reckon with the pandemic’s impact on child care programs and individual educators. This research paper presents findings from a survey of 953 California ECE programs and providers in June-July 2020. The results provide an in-depth view of the past year’s devastation and highlight the unseen costs of operating a child care program throughout the pandemic with little-to-no support.  Survey responses paint a grim picture of early educators fearing for their own health and the health of their families, of providers taking on personal credit card debt to cover program expenses, and a constant scramble to both find and afford essential cleaning supplies in order to meet new health and safety regulations. The key findings from this study should inform the strategic, equitable, and urgent allocation of American Rescue Plan Act stabilization funds in California over the coming months.

This research paper is part of the California ECE COVID-19 Impact Study and expands upon an initial data snapshot released in July 2020.