“Disregarded and undervalued”: early childhood teacher’s experiences of stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic

Linda Henderson, Leigh Disney, Katherine Bussey, Gretchen Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Early childhood education and care (ECEC) has been impacted by COVID-19. Australia’s ECEC has not been spared this impact. Australia’s ECEC sector was positioned as an ‘essential’ service providing vital childcare support for frontline workers. This meant the ECEC workforce was positioned as frontline workers caring for young children. It was not long before reports emerged of the ECEC workforce experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. This paper reports on the findings from a survey of early childhood teachers and educators (n = 75) across Australia. The paper presents analysis of data from 33 early childhood teachers (ECTs). This data shows ECTs were experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. We draw attention to factors causing stress and anxiety. We argue there was a sense of feeling dispensable and undervalued. In conclusion, we suggest there is a need for systemic workforce reform to address wellbeing issues facing the ECEC sector.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalEarly Years
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • early childhood workforce
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • wellbeing
  • stress

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