The Impacts of Coronavirus on Families with Infants and Toddlers of Color

Written by: Melissa Mares
Date Posted: September 11, 2020

Last week, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) released a report on the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on infants and toddlers of color. In A Pandemic within a Pandemic: How Coronavirus and Systemic Racism Are Harming Infants and Toddlers of ColorCLASP policy analysts describe the widespread systemic racism in public policies that have led to disparities in health outcomes and economic stability between children and families of color and their white peers. Without government action and support, the coronavirus pandemic will make these pre-existing inequities much worse, with potential long-term consequences for the health and development of infants and toddlers.  

Though infants and toddlers may be less vulnerable to contracting covid-19 than adults, infants and toddlers of color are more likely than their peers to experience adverse childhood experiences due to the disparate impacts of the pandemic on their families and communities. Without additional support or intervention, adverse childhood experiences have been proven to lead to a lifelong negative impact on children’s brain development, emotional well-being, and physical health.  

The economic fallout from the pandemic and resulting toxic levels of stress facing families of color are significant. The US Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data reflects the disparate impacts of the pandemic. As of mid-July, 64 percent of Latinx adults and 57 percent of Black adults reported that they or someone in their household lost income from employment due to the coronavirus. The survey also showed that rates of food insecurity among Black households with children are almost twice as high as among white households. Rates of food insecurity are 60 percent higher for Hispanic households with children than among white households.  

On August 25, the  found that nearly two-thirds of specific subgroups of caregivers (Black, Latinx, single parent and low-income households) reported worry about basic shelter and food for their families. The RAPID-EC Project identifies insecurity about food as the single most important driver of caregiver anxiety, depression, and stress in lower income households. 

Infants and toddlers are especially attuned to their caregivers’ emotional states. Because of the compounding stressors of the pandemic, they are currently at greater risk for accumulated adverse childhood experiences. As the number of adverse childhood experiences increases, the risk for negative outcomes for children also increases. Children and families of color need support in order to be able to successfully recover from the covid-19 pandemic. Policymakers must prioritize their needs in pandemic response and recovery.   

Melissa Mares

About Melissa Mares