Articles de revue
Early Childhood Education Journal
This article presents a study about the impact of COVID-19 on childcare center educators in Quebec (Canada). Regulated childcare services were closed due to the pandemic between March 16 and May 31, 2020, in areas considered “hot” (highly affected by the pandemic). During this time, some centers were transformed into “emergency childcare services” available to parents considered to be essential workers. Therefore, few children attended, and most educators worked remotely. In May 2020, 372 educators completed an online questionnaire regarding their emotional state, challenges, and learning opportunities. Results indicate that half of the respondents reported a decrease in their level of well-being at work and an increase in their stress level. Educators working remotely were more likely to report a lower level of stress than when working with children at daycare (36.1% vs 19.7%). Despite these findings, educators estimated that the parents who used their emergency childcare service presented either high (37.7%) or average (32.2%) levels of wellbeing. The factors that educators identified as facilitating their interactions with families included parental recognition of their work (11.68%) and direct contact with them (12.62%). While many tasks accomplished at home were done for the first time during this period (i.e., creating video capsules for children and parents, virtual meetings with children and colleagues), a large majority of respondents reported that these tasks made them feel useful. Working at their own pace (34.7%) was seen as the principal advantage of remote working. Finally, 28.84% mentioned that the reduced ratio (1:2 or 1:3) was a facilitating factor that they would like to maintain during the upcoming reopening phase. The discussion uses the Job Demands and Resources theoretical framework (Bakker and Demerouti in Wellbeing 3(2):1–28, 2014; Dicke et al. in J Occupat Health Psychol 23(2): 262–277, 2017) to explain the educators’ work-related demands and emotional state in both remote and CPE working pandemic contexts. In conclusion, we argued that this pandemic reveals the complexity, but also the essential nature of the work of early childhood educators, in particular by identifying their needs for support and recognition essential to their professional commitment.