Safeguards for Youth and Responding to COVID-19

A note from Lori Turk-Bicakci, Ph.D., Director, Kidsdata Program.

Working with data has been my world for years. Stories unfold through data, and I take comfort in knowing that some of these stories are powerful enough to be a linchpin for change. As a result of COVID-19, some health and well-being trend lines will pivot in previously unimaginable ways. I am committed to bending these impending pivots to benefit children. I do this through data, but we all contribute in our own way.

As your organization responds to COVID-19, you might find our Safeguards for Youth information helpful. Our dedicated webpage is a compilation of the latest data on protective factors and supportive services for the state’s children. The data are continually updated and the page includes:

  • Links to indicators of protective factors that describe preventive health care, a strong start in education, and a nurturing school community.
  • Links to indicators of supportive services including those that address health challenges, abuse, and family poverty.
  • Recording of our Safeguards for Youth briefing on adopting a prevention mind-set and using trauma-informed practices.
  • New: A series of six data focus briefs on topics recently highlighted in Kidsdata News.

I would like to suggest using Safeguards for Youth data to help anticipate and address the pandemic’s long-term impact on California children by assessing intransigent gaps in protections and services. For example:

  • Health insurance promotes preventive care and early intervention on health issues. Hispanic/Latino children and American Indian/Alaskan Native children have historically lacked health insurance at higher rates than most other race/ethnic groups of children. Hispanic/Latino children ages 0-17 also make up the largest share of COVID-19 cases compared with other race/ethnic groups.

    What new approaches could be taken to ensure that the children in these populations are adequately protected with health insurance?

  • Children’s usual source of health care might change as a result of COVID-19. Over the last couple of decades, just over 60% of children usually went to a doctor’s office or HMO when faced with a health issue, and about 25% went to a clinic or hospital.

    With an increase in telehealth and other unforeseen consequences, will this pattern of health care utilization change for children? What does it mean for your community?

A third example will be highlighted in the next issue of Kidsdata News. We will explore how data and past research could provide guidance for the COVID-19 response on the issue of mental health among youth.

As you work with data to inform your response to COVID-19, please feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments. Through our collective efforts, I believe our approach to addressing children’s health and well-being will strengthen with a sharpened focus as we find new ways to relate to each other and to children. Almost all parts of society are in a shake-up, and my hope is that from it, the best parts of who we are and what we do will emerge and flourish.

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