Coronavirus Crisis Continues to Threaten the Health and Wellbeing of Young Children and Parents at Risk

Coronavirus Crisis Continues to Threaten the Health and Wellbeing of Young Children and Parents at Risk

One year after the United States declared a public health emergency due to COVID-19, families across California continue to struggle. In order to gain a deeper understanding of how the coronavirus continues to impact California’s youngest and their families, we once again partnered with the Education Trust West and other partners on a survey of 600 parents of children ages 0-5. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten the health and long-term success of California’s young children, their families, and the workforce that supports them. Families with young children, particularly families of color and low-income families, are continuing to struggle with their mental and social-emotional health, financial and food security, access to healthcare and telehealth—challenges that have exacerbated already existing inequities,” said Mayra E. Alvarez, President of The Children’s Partnership. “Our collective wellbeing depends on our work with policymakers to fundamentally transform the way our society supports children and families, so that California’s young children can achieve their right to thrive.” 

Key findings include: 

  • Parents have ongoing and intense concerns about the impact the coronavirus is having on the mental health of themselves and their family, as well as their child’s development and overall well-being.  70% of parents worry about their and their family’s mental health as a result of the pandemic. 87% of parents agree that receiving referrals to mental health clinics and providers could help them but only 13% currently have received or have access to referrals. 
  • California’s parents of young children continue to experience significant hardship around expenses that support basic human needs like food and housing. Over 1 in 2 (59%) percent of low-income parents and 40% of parents of color, including 42% of Latinx parents, say they are unsure or will not be able to afford basic expenses like food and housing. Nearly 1 in 2 low-income parents (46%) say they have skipped or reduced the size of their own or their child’s meals as a result of the coronavirus crisis. 
  • Parents are struggling with accessing health care for themselves and their children during the pandemic. Over a third of parents overall (34%) have attempted to enroll themselves or their family in Medi-Cal during the pandemic. For many parents, enrolling in Medi-Cal was not easy — half (50%) stated that they had problems and/or issues when applying and enrolling in Medi-Cal; the most common being the need for a lot of follow-up (23%), found the application confusing (21%) or couldn’t reach a county worker to apply (18%).
  • Digital inequity remains an issue: The vast majority (94%) of parents agree that accessing their child’s doctor using telehealth could help them, but only 48% currently access their child’s doctor using telehealth. 

For an analysis of survey results and related policy recommendations related to health, mental health, and social determinants of health, click here.