When the lockdowns first began, headlines predicted that this was an opportunity for fathers to step up to the plate. They, too, could tackle childcare while working from home, proving to their partners that they were, in fact, partners.
However, nearly 6 months later, the data tells a different story. Mothers are overwhelmingly the ones who shouldered the burden, taking time off from work and/or stepping away from their careers to care for their kids and navigate online learning. Many who could not take time off worked nights and weekends to compensate for lost hours during the day. What has resulted, due to this and other factors, is a notable decline in female participation in the workforce and a notable increase in motherhood stressors.
Now, imagine what this has been like for single mothers. Taking time off when you are the sole provider is not an option but neither is leaving your kids home alone all day or night while you work. A step back from other responsibilities to care for always-at-home children may mean opting out of a promotion or taking a break from school. This can significantly impact the finances of a household - present and future.
At RJLF, many of our Fellows are single mothers. While they have been nothing short of awe-inspiring throughout the past several months, they have also struggled. And the pandemic isn’t over yet. Click here to find out how you can support these moms as they continue forward in the new normal as professionals, students and mothers.
We’ve shared with you one young person’s experience of aging out during the COVID-19 pandemic and last week highlighted the advocacy efforts that are aimed at securing additional funding and support for young adults in foster care. This week, let’s look at the numbers.
A recent national survey of youth ages 18 to 23 who are in or have aged out of foster care looked to find out just how COVID-19 has impacted the population. The results aren’t surprising. 72% of those surveyed said that their financial situation would be stable for no more than one month. 67% stated that the pandemic was impacting their educational progress, and 55% reported being food insecure as a result of COVID-19. As for mental health, more than half reported clinically-significant levels of depression and/or anxiety.
COVID-19 has been challenging for all of us, but it is fair to say that some populations have been more deeply affected than others - including youth in foster care. To help them, we need to ensure that services and resources are widely available and accessible. If you haven’t yet, check out the #UpChafee movement. And in the meantime, check in with the youth you know. Reaching out may seem like a small act, but it carries with it a huge impact.
When COVID-19 first took hold of the United States, those working with and for youth in foster care (not to mention youth in foster care) knew that special attention would be needed to help this population through the pandemic. In particular, transition-age youth - those on the cusp of adulthood - would need a safety net to help ensure their needs were met ongoing. And so, the #UpChafee Campaign was started.
Chafee services are federally mandated services offered to youth who are or were in foster care on or after their 14th birthday. The programs are designed to help prepare the youth for their transition to adulthood by teaching them a variety of life skills and offering assistance with education, employment and housing, as possible.
The #UpChafee campaign advocated for additional support for transition-age youth by extending foster care supports and increasing funding for the Chafee services already in place. On August 7, that campaign took one huge step forward. Representatives Danny Davis (D-Ill) and Jackie Walorski (R-In.) introduced the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act. The legislation would, among other things, provide $400 million in funding for FY2020 and place a moratorium on aging out of foster care due to age during the pandemic.
While the introduction of a bill with bipartisan support is a great sign, it is not the conclusion of the #UpChafee Campaign. More needs to be done to help pass the legislation - and that more includes you. Contact your state representatives. Urge them to support the bill. Speak out about the needs of transition-age youth and the impact COVID-19 has and will continue to have on them. These youth deserve our help.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2020 Kids Count Data Book this summer, in which it detailed the well-being of children throughout the United States. Overall, the data showed positive trends with more parents economically secure, more teens graduating from college and more children of all ages covered by insurance. In Pennsylvania which ranked 20th in the country for child well-being, the data showed fewer children in poverty and fewer households with a high cost of living burden, for example.
However, it is important to note that this data was pulled from 2018, and even if it had been true for 2020 prior to the pandemic, the trends likely aren’t as positive now. COVID-19 has impacted all facets of life but particularly (outside of physical health) employment and income. In Pennsylvania alone, nearly 2 million new unemployment claims have been filed since March 15. Without steady employment, other aspects of well-being are affected as well, such as insurance coverage, the cost of living burden and education. Even with safety nets, such as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), the process of applying and obtaining coverage after losing private insurance could result in a gap - a potentially costly gap during a pandemic.
With that in mind, what should the takeaways be from the Kids Count Data Book? The data is still relevant. It shows that as a state and a country we are making progress in promoting and maintaining children’s well-being, while also highlighting areas that need to be worked on. And it demonstrates the holistic nature of well-being. It’s not just physical health but rather a host of different parts of life that make up the well-being of one person.
Thinking, then, of COVID-19, we can look at the data book as a guide to what we need to focus on and help rebuild during and after the pandemic. Like all of us, children have been affected by COVID-19, and it is a part of our job - as community members and adults - to help mitigate the impact.