Erin Hardy

Erin Hardy, MS, is a senior research scientist in the Education and Child Development department at NORC conducting early childhood research, including work that is responsive to cultural and linguistic diversity, disparities and equity issues. She has over 15 years of experience conducting applied quantitative equity-focused policy research in the areas of early childhood care and education, child health, and K-12 education. Her research focuses on structural drivers of inequality in children’s developmental contexts and access to opportunities, and how to account for these connections in the analysis and development of U.S. social policies. Her work utilizes quantitative and spatial analysis methods and GIS.

Hardy's work at NORC will focus on national, state and local early childhood studies and equity-focused data and analysis projects that seek to harvest reliable, actionable early childhood data and analyses, bringing to bear the full range of NORC’s early childhood research methodologies on pressing issues of equity for children. Hardy is also part of NORC’s National Survey of Early Care and Education (NSECE) team, providing content and methodological research support.

Prior to joining NORC, Hardy was a research fellow at the Institute for Child, Youth and Family Policy at Brandeis University. There she served as the Early Childhood Research Director for the project--a national indicator and policy research project focused on issues of racial/ethnic equity for children in the U.S. Hardy led various equity indicator development and policy research projects and related policy impact activities, mostly focused on early childhood and neighborhood and educational inequities. She also served as the principal investigator and national data partner for an internal research and evaluation project of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to develop indicators of child health, education and early childhood equity in the foundation’s priority communities. Since 2013, Hardy has served as a co-Principal Investigator for the Massachusetts Child Care Research Partnership, funded by the federal Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE), leading the data development, GIS and spatial methods components of multiple evaluation studies of the state’s child care assistance policies.

Earlier in her career, Hardy worked as a fellow for the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University and as a research associate for RTI International conducting evaluation work for a federally funded, community-based family strengthening initiative. She also worked for a half-decade in corporate and public finance investment banking at the start of her career.

Hardy has written and contributed to several peer-reviewed publications, reports, and invited presentations including many associated with the project. She has also designed and authored several data visualization tools that tell equity-focused data stories housed at Her recently published August 2021 research report, “Advancing equity through neighborhood informed early childhood policies” can be found here.

While at Brandeis, Hardy was part of a research team that was recognized with the Heller School for Social Policy and Management’s Research Award in 2016 (for their work on the Massachusetts Child Care Research Partnership), and in 2018 (for their work on the project).

Hardy served as a Content Advisory Team member for the NSECE 2017-2021, and is thrilled to continue her engagement with the NSECE as a team member at NORC.