Early Childhood: What changes do families need post-pandemic?

View this email in your browser
Early Childhood
A newsletter from The Hechinger Report
 Share Share
 Tweet Tweet
 Forward Forward

Jackie Mader

By Jackie Mader

Monica Pomares doesn’t know how she made it through the last year. After falling ill with what she suspects was Covid-19 in spring of 2020—Pomares couldn’t access testing—she ended up with what her doctors now say are likely long-haul symptoms: severe fatigue, migraines and mental fog. With her partner working two jobs, Pomares spent many days in bed, watching their 3-year-old daughter from cameras she placed around the house. “I felt really bad because I’m like, what kind of life am I giving her?” the 39-year-old said on a recent afternoon. Pomares’ budding business as a voice teacher in her Oregon town shut down when the pandemic started. And her boyfriend depleted his 401k to pay the family’s bills, on top of working his two jobs. “We’re kind of swinging from vine to vine,” Pomares said on a recent afternoon.
Pomares, who also has a 14-year-old and is pregnant with her third child, hopes to go back to work after having her baby. But she doesn’t know how she’ll pay for child care when that happens. She is anxiously awaiting the family’s first payment from the expanded Child Tax Credit, which will begin in the form of monthly payments in July. “That’s going to help us immensely,” she said.

Like Pomares, millions of families still haven’t fully recovered from the worst of the pandemic. Although rates of material hardship among families with young children have been declining in recent months, 1 in 4 families recently surveyed by RAPID-EC, a biweekly survey of families with young children, are still having difficulty affording their basic needs, including paying for food, rent and bills. That’s a slightly higher rate than when the pandemic began last spring. Meanwhile, food hardship rates for children are still significantly higher than pre-pandemic. In late March 2021, 8.8 million children lived in a home where they weren’t eating enough because their families couldn’t afford food, compared to 1.1 million children in December 2019.

These rates of food and material hardship have been consistently higher for Black and Latinx households than white households; material hardship rates have also been higher for single-parent households, families with children with disabilities and low-income families.
“There are still families struggling with income, still having bills piling up,” said Jason Gindele, executive director of Mainspring Schools, a child care center in Austin, Texas, which along with providing care, has helped families pay rent and buy food during the pandemic. “These are families who were living paycheck to paycheck before the pandemic and now suddenly have six, eight, ten months of rent or utilities [to pay].”
Experts say the pandemic has illuminated how fraught the nation’s support system is for families —and what needs to be in place to help families recover. “Support was already fragmented and weak, and so the pandemic has exacerbated that,” said Cathy McHorse, vice president of Success by 6 at the United Way for Greater Austin.
Coming out of the pandemic, parents and experts have identified a host of policies that could help. The expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which will come in the form of advanced monthly payments to families beginning in July, could make a big dent in child poverty and alleviate some of the chronic stress faced by families. Making that tax credit permanent is one of the main recommendations from experts and child-focused organizations. Proposals by President Joe Biden to provide child care assistance to families, create a national paid family leave program and provide universal preschool to 3 and 4-year-olds could also play a huge role in lifting families up. “We have a real opportunity right now, when you think about policies that can better support families with young children” said Rahil Briggs, national director of HealthySteps, a pediatric primary care program. That includes many of the initiatives proposed in the American Families Plan (AFP), like medical leave for families, more child care support and mental health access, she added.
Stabilizing the nation’s fragile child care system is also critical to support families, said Myra Jones-Taylor, chief policy officer at the nonprofit ZERO TO THREE. “All those children that are struggling now, we really owe it to them,” she said. “We owe it to the future of this country to make sure we have all the supports in place now and in the future so we can address those challenges and make sure we don’t have lifelong consequences”
In the absence of more reliable, immediate and consistent federal and state support, many families have turned to community organizations, child care centers and schools for help—some of which have been struggling themselves. In Los Angeles, the nonprofit Para Los Niños, which runs a network of child care centers and charter schools among other services, has focused on helping families meet their basic needs through food distribution days and access to technology. Para Los Niños also focuses on mental health by providing access to therapists for more than 100 families each week, sometimes in the form of parent-child therapy that occurs simultaneously. Many experts say this is critical as they are anticipating that the stress and trauma from the pandemic could manifest as mental health challenges for children and their caregivers. Said Sherry Berg, director of clinical development at Para Los Niños: “This is a trauma for our entire society right now.”

More on families and the pandemic:

This story by JoNel Aleccia of Kaiser Health News and published by NBC News looks at the challenge of finding support for children who have lost a parent during the pandemic.

In this 2020 story I wrote for The Hechinger Report, I spoke to several parents who were giving up their careers due to the pandemic.

 Research Quick Take: 

Attempts to increase access and enrollment to full-day, school-based pre-K in Chicago have resulted in higher kindergarten entry skills and better academic outcomes in second grade, especially for high-priority students. That’s the main finding of a new report by Start Early, NORC at the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The report looked at the years after the 2013-14 school year when Chicago Public Schools increased the overall number of full-day pre-K in schools and placed those classrooms in neighborhoods with a large proportion of “high-priority children and historically low rates of enrollment.” Researchers found math scores and overall academic grades were higher for students in the pre-K cohorts after these policy changes. Black students and students in the lowest-income group also scored higher on reading tests in second grade. “What our research shows is that when families are offered full-day, school-based pre-K near their homes, they are more likely to enroll,” said Maia Connors, director of research and policy initiatives with Start Early and one of the report’s authors. Proximity “seems to be an important factor in families’ decisions,” she added, and opens up a “pathway to higher academic outcomes.”

Was this newsletter forwarded to you?
Click here to subscribe!
More Early Childhood news 
You made it to the bottom of this free newsletter. Will you support our nonprofit newsroom with a gift?
Give today to make this message go away.
Our newsletters
Copyright © 2021 The Hechinger Report, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up at our website The Hechinger Report.

Our mailing address is:
The Hechinger Report
475 Riverside Drive
Suite 650
New York, NY 10115

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Older messages

Jobs of the future

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

How soon should job training start? This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. 📬 View this email in your browser A newsletter from The Hechinger

Proof Points: A primer on parental consent in ed research

Monday, June 21, 2021

Studying “normal” instructional practices doesn't usually require permission slips This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. View this email in

Indiana offers free career coaching to all residents

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Free career coaching This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. View this email in your browser Support for this newsletter comes from A newsletter

Future of Learning: A rigorous virtual field trip

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

A museum's virtual science program, in which kids interact with digitized collections and real scientists, took off during the pandemic This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription,

PTA funding essentials

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Should richer schools share the wealth This is a weekly newsletter. Sign up for a free subscription, and invite a friend to subscribe. 📬 View this email in your browser Support for this newsletter is

How to get your creative work back on track

Friday, July 23, 2021

Artist and designer Coleen Baik shows us how to make a "What's Next" deck ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

🎙️ Find That Pod # 120

Friday, July 23, 2021

ADVERTISEMENT Five Great New Podcasts Welcome to the 120th edition of Find That Pod. Straight to business today... here are this week's podcast recommendations... ADVERTISEMENT Reading and Writing

How James Clear sets prices

Friday, July 23, 2021

Image When James Clear first started doing speaking gigs, he had no clue what to charge. So, he randomly picked a number ($500). Then, every three gigs he got he raised his fee. He's continued to

Audacity updates its privacy policy

Friday, July 23, 2021

iHeartRadio is number one for podcasts; Feedburner changes; Clubhouse has a logo now 2.9 minutes to read · Your daily briefing for podcasting and on-demand, with 19655 subscribers; issue #1085 ·

360Learning - Our May Webinar Roundup!

Friday, July 23, 2021

If this email is not displayed correctly, click here 360Learning May Events Newsletter We're launching our first-ever events newsletter! Below is a roundup of all the exciting events and webinars

360Learning - Our June Webinar Roundup!

Friday, July 23, 2021

If this email is not displayed correctly, click here 360Learning June Events Newsletter Happy first month of summer! Sunshine, ice cream, and daylight until 8 pm, what's not to love about summer?

360Learning - Our July Webinar Roundup!

Friday, July 23, 2021

If this email is not displayed correctly, click here 360Learning July Events Newsletter Let the Summer Vibes Sink in! Fireworks, hot dogs, and patriotic parades, it's almost time to celebrate!

Matchmaking, writing lessons from Ted Lasso & learning experiences in different formats [Scale Your Impact #53]

Friday, July 23, 2021

Your fill of copywriting, online course, and productivity insights ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌

The Warren Buffet of Cashflow Buys Trailer Parks?

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The nitty gritty on mobile home parks making millions, with Justin Donald The Warren Buffet of Cashflow Buys Trailer Parks? Welcome to you 2243+ newly minted Contrarians. This is the free newsletter,

3-2-1: How to find opportunities, and what it takes to improve

Thursday, July 22, 2021

3 ideas, 2 quotes, and 1 question to consider this week. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌