There is no doubt that COVID-19 and the resulting economic shutdown has affected communities nationwide. The impacts on children and families are far reaching, and extend deep into health, employment, education, and social services.
Programs providing services to children and families are feeling the impact on the child care sector. Many programs face challenges as they provide services or work to remain in operation after an extended closure mandated by local government.
We know that families’ needs are changing. How does that look in your community? By reviewing state and local data, programs serving children and families can gain insight into how needs have changed or grown since the pandemic began.
What type of data is important to know?
Data on health impacts stands at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Census Bureau is measuring experiences through its Household Pulse Survey, looking at data such as delayed health care and impacts on mental health. The CDC is looking at reduced access to immunizations, while preventative care for children is also a growing concern.
Educational impacts of school closures have not yet been fully evaluated. Clearly, the transition to virtual learning in many states has created a substantial shift in educational experiences for children. In some communities, limited access to technology may deepen an already existing educational divide.
Unemployment rates have increased drastically with stay-at-home orders, while industry trends show decreases in the number of available jobs.
What does data tell us about the impact of COVID-19 on communities?
While each community is different, we are seeing concerning trends around food insecurity and child abuse and neglect.
Food banks across the country report drastic increases in the number of families in need of food. In some cases, food bank distribution exceeds that of any other time period. Local reporting or press releases from local food banks, reviewed in conjunction with data related to public assistance data (e.g., SNAP) can show the real-time impact of the economic downturn on families’ ability to afford food.
Child welfare agencies are noticing decreases in reports of child abuse and neglect. Experts indicate that during stressful times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, child and abuse and neglect reports typically rise. With many children not in the care of mandated reporters, reports are not being filed with child welfare departments or through child abuse hotlines. This decrease is especially concerning to organizations that serve children and families.
How can COVID-19 data be useful to my organization?
Your state’s guidelines for phased reopening, coupled with data on families’ needs, can help you plan your services for the coming program year and beyond.
As states re-open their economies and implement strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19, programs will need to adapt and respond. Data on health, employment, education, and social services tells an important story that will help to ensure children and families’ needs are understood and met.
Foundations for Families is conducting COVID-19 Data Updates for select programs serving children and families.This update is designed to supplement an existing community assessment, and provides a detailed, point-in-time snapshot of how COVID-19 is impacting the local communities and the needs of children and families.