NCECF will be tracking and reporting on state and federal actions that can support families and protect young children’s social-emotional health during this time. We will be spotlighting innovative approaches that our local partners are taking during the crisis. We will also be highlighting how this crisis impacts some communities and families disproportionately.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upturned the lives of nearly all North Carolinians, but as with any crisis, young children, seniors, families with low income – who are disproportionately people of color – and people with disabilities or special health care needs will be the most profoundly affected. Research has found that natural disasters and crises – such as the one we are currently living through – impact young children’s physical health and mental health, and interrupt their education.[i]
- After a natural disaster, young children – particularly those whose families are living with low income – are more likely to show stunted growth or be underweight, less likely to be up-to-date on vaccinations, and more likely to have acute illnesses.[ii]
- Children often show ongoing symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression after experiencing disasters and crises, and poverty can exacerbate those impacts.[iii]
- Children with post-traumatic stress symptoms tend to be less likely to perceive that support is available to them and less likely to reach out for support.[iv]
The American Academy of Pediatrics shares that children are particularly vulnerable during a disaster, but that their reactions and the impact the disaster has on them tend to vary based on circumstances like:
- The extent of exposure to the event
- The amount of support during the disaster and its aftermath
- The amount of personal loss and social disruption[v]
The extent of children’s exposure to this event is being determined by our society’s public health response – staying at home and washing hands regularly can help control the trajectory of the virus. Taking the next steps of providing children and their families – particularly those who are most vulnerable – with financial and emotional support during the crisis and limiting personal loss and social disruption as much as possible is key to ensuring that we all weather the storm.
Check out this post on direct and indirect financial assistance to families and forgivable loans for small businesses – a few of the strategies put in place in recent days to support families and communities.