Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are five survey tips that can help inform local agencies and leaders who want to better understand the needs of childhood care programs during the pandemic. 

• How can donors help meet some of the needs?

• Read about supporting-based childcare during COVID-19. 

Since March 2020, COVID-19 has forced many child care programs across the country to close, and dozens of surveys of child care providers and families have been conducted. States and local leaders are trying to understand how programs and their staff are faring and what it will take to reopen and recover from the pandemic.

But with the urgency for answers, are surveys being developed and tested the way they should be? Writing good survey questions can take time and resources. Developing surveys quickly is challenging, especially in a time of such change and unfamiliarity. Keeping in mind best practices for survey writing may help. Our new brief highlights five tips for national, state, and local agencies seeking answers:

  1. Clearly identify who you are targeting. Child care providers vary in many ways. Who do you want to respond? Both center-based and home-based providers? Are you including Head Start and public prekindergarten programs?
  2. Keep your survey short and the focus narrow. Although it’s hard to cut questions you think are important, long surveys are challenging to complete and can turn people away. What are your study goals?
  3. Use specific and appropriate time frames. Will your survey only focus on experiences during the pandemic? If you want to collect information about a time period before COVID-19, it’s best to provide a specific reference point.
  4. Be careful with word choice. Survey questions and response options should have the same meaning for all respondents and be clear in intent.
  5. Test your survey! Before launching a survey, test it at different stages. Early on, ask several experts to review draft questions and provide feedback on the wording of questions and priorities.

Read the full article about childcare programs during the pandemic by Heather Sandstrom at Urban Institute.