2021-10-14 14:41:19 We cannot continue to ignore the COVID childcare crisis | Coronavirus pandemic

We cannot continue to ignore the COVID childcare crisis | Coronavirus pandemic

The world is facing a global care crisis, which must be addressed immediately.

When children grow up in unstable family environments or lose important family bonds, it can have long-term consequences for them.

This is what we see in our work every day.

We see it when we meet children like Aleksander*, an eight-month-old boy from Ukraine, and his 10-year-old sister Natalyia. Tragically, their mother, who was raising them as a single parent, died recently. Local child welfare officials placed them in the care of their father, Ivan. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ivan lost his job and found himself unable to adequately provide for his children.

The pandemic exacerbated the suffering of children all over the world, including Alexander and Natalyia.

Every child, every family, and every community has suffered as a result of the pandemic and the measures put in place to combat it. It did, however, disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.

Millions of people, like Ivan, who were already struggling to make ends meet prior to the emergence of COVID-19, are now faced with many additional responsibilities and stresses, making it nearly impossible to effectively care for their children.

Children are disproportionately affected.

Many children have lost their parents or primary caregivers as a result of the virus. According to a study published in The Lancet, “more than 1.5 million children worldwide have lost at least one parent, custodial grandparent, or grandparent who lived with them due to COVID-19 death during the first 14 months of the pandemic.” This means that for every two adults who die as a result of COVID-19, one child is left without a caregiver.

These children are frequently cared for by another family member, who frequently struggles with the added financial burden. Meanwhile, orphaned children who cannot be cared for by a family member are placed in the care of the state, which has a long-term impact on their lives.

Children who have lost a primary caregiver are not the only ones suffering as a result of the pandemic.

The pandemic has resulted in increased poverty, social exclusion, and even hunger for hundreds of millions of children. Many families who have not experienced a pandemic-related death are struggling to stay afloat and are unable to meet their children’s most basic needs.

The pandemic’s anxiety and mental health issues are also wreaking havoc on families and, as a result, children. Many parents and other primary caregivers are experiencing unprecedented stress as a result of financial insecurity, a lack of childcare, school closures, and limited or no access to healthcare or other social services and benefits. Needs for mental health and psychosocial support are underserved, and services are frequently unavailable.

As a result, there has been an increase in child abuse and neglect. And many parents resorted to desperate measures, such as removing their children from their homes. The number of children placed in alternative care through our programs because caregivers were unable to continue caring for them increased by 26% in 2020 compared to 2019.

The children have told us how the pandemic has negatively impacted their lives. Some have stated that they no longer feel safe at home.

The global survey conducted by the #CovidUnder19 initiative, in which over 26,000 children and young adults from 137 countries took part, revealed that children living in alternative care frequently felt worried, bored, or sad during the pandemic.

During these trying times, young adults have also suffered disproportionately. Many of those who had left our care programs shortly before the pandemic returned to us seeking assistance, claiming that they had lost their jobs, were unable to continue their education remotely, or were unable to pay their rent.

And the childcare crisis is only getting worse.

Delays and unequal access to vaccination are putting more and more children and caregivers in danger around the world, putting many more children at risk of losing their parents and caregivers.

We cannot stand by and watch this happen.

The pandemic has exposed an ongoing crisis in health-care delivery in every corner of the globe. While some governments have provided emergency assistance to families, in some cases, assistance has been non-existent.

Civil society stepped up to assist in meeting the most pressing needs of families and children. However, this is not a long-term or sustainable solution.

Political will and financial commitment will be required to resolve this unprecedented crisis.

Governments must take the lead in responding to this urgent crisis in order to protect individuals, families, and society as a whole.

This necessitates a systematic, coordinated, and well-resourced emergency response that prioritizes the most vulnerable.

This includes education, health, mental health and psychosocial support, parenting support, and other direct support services such as cash transfers, universal child benefit, or other income support measures for all children and their families.

Improved global access to vaccines is also critical – it is the only way to contain the pandemic. Never before has it been more clear to us all that we can only protect our own health by also protecting the health of others.

Finally, governments must invest in child protection systems that can address long-term care needs. Every child has a better chance of succeeding in life as a result of this.

Along with governments, the private sector, civil society, children, and their families must all contribute to the solution. This is the only way for children like Aleksander and Nataliya to have a decent life.

We must all do our part. All hands are on deck. If every child receives love and support, the world will be a better place.

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We cannot continue to ignore the COVID childcare crisis | Coronavirus pandemic