The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession have dramatically reduced access to in-person early childhood and learning programs for young children. Child health and development experts worry that the lack of social connection, interaction with early learning professionals and peers, and missed opportunities to identify developmental and learning delays will have long-term impacts on young children.

During this webinar, early childhood and Medicaid experts from Ohio, North Carolina, and the Head Start Program highlighted efforts used to support young children with development and learning needs throughout the pandemic. Panelists also explored how states and communities can address the learning and social and emotional development of young children as they reenter early childhood and learning settings after local lockdown restrictions are lifted. It was the final webinar in a three-part webinar series focusing on opportunities for early childhood and Medicaid programs to better support families with young children in the current and post-pandemic environment.

YouTube video

About the Early Childhood and Medicaid Innovations Amid COVID-19 Webinar Series

This webinar series spotlighted state efforts to align or innovate early childhood and Medicaid programs to help families with young children find resiliency in the face of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic disruptions and beyond. This series is a product of Aligning Early Childhood and Medicaid, a national initiative made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by the Center for Health Care Strategies in partnership with ZERO TO THREE, the National Association of Medicaid Directors, Social Determinants of Health Consulting, and the Public Leadership Group.


I. Welcome and Introduction

Speaker: Armelle Casau, PhD, Senior Program Officer, Center for Health Care Strategies; Gretchen Hammer, MPH, Public Leadership Group

A. Casau welcomed participants and provided a brief overview of the webinar series and the Aligning Early Childhood and Medicaid project. G. Hammer introduced the importance of supporting early development and learning and introduce the speakers.

II. Supporting Development and Learning Needs of Young Children During COVID and Beyond:   Expert Panel

Speakers: Wendy Grove, PhD, Director of Early Learning and School Readiness, Ohio Department of Education; Emma Sandoe, PhD, Associate Director of Strategy and Planning, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health Benefits (Medicaid); and Sangeeta Parikshak, PhD, Social Science Analyst, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start

This moderated panel discussion shared innovative policies and programs that were implemented to support the development and learning needs of young children during the initial COVID-19 response. The panelists also discussed areas of ongoing concerns about the impact of the last year on the development and learning of young children and opportunities to align early childhood and health systems to support the long-term resilience of children and families.

III. Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Gretchen Hammer, MPH, Public Leadership Group

Webinar participants had the opportunity to engage with the expert panelists throughout the webinar and submit questions through a moderated question and answer period at the end of the panel discussion.