Our Work

Work and Health Among Early Childhood Education Providers in Washington State

Early care and learning environments are increasingly recognized as critical factors in the health, development, and wellbeing of young children. The estimated 2.2 million people employed in early care and education (ECE) in the US, however, represent a highly vulnerable working population. ECE providers receive relatively low pay, have few job-related benefits, and are disproportionately young women. ECE providers are potentially exposed to multiple health risks on the job including infectious disease, musculoskeletal strain, and high levels of stress. Aiming to improve the quality of ECE and related childhood outcomes, education-related fields have recently focused significant attention to this workforce in terms of job demands, low pay, and lack of prestige. However, there is a paucity of comprehensive research on the health status of the ECE workforce, the prevalence and characteristics of poor working conditions they confront, and associations between the two. 

Our team is conducting comprehensive assessment of the working conditions and health status of the ECE workforce in Washington State. Using a statewide survey of center-based ECE providers, on-site observation data, and learning environment quality assessments, we will describe the ECE workforce, providers’ working conditions and health status, and conduct exploratory analyses of the relationships between work exposures, socio-demographic characteristics, indicators of quality of care, health behaviors, work organization characteristics, and health outcomes. The results will be used to support the development of additional hypothesis-driven research, intervention strategies, and health-supportive policies for this underserved but vital workforce. Study advisors include representatives from the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families; Child Care Aware of Washington; and University of Washington Cultivate Learning.


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)


Noah Seixas, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (Principal Investigator)

Jennifer Otten (Co-Investigator)

Project Coordinator

Emilee Quinn

Project Team

Bert Stover

Trevor Peckham

Project Period

April 2015 – June 2020

Project Status


Project Contact

Jennifer Otten