Four in Ten Families Report Pandemic Negatively Impacted Finances

Many families with children have seen their economic security directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, child poverty was a deep concern among many researchers, practitioners, and advocates because it can alter children’s developmental trajectories in cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical health.

As the pandemic unfolded, some caregivers were forced to cut back on work or lost their jobs, threatening their families’ economic security. Though some families offset income losses by increasing their involvement in social service programs and receiving other aid, we have yet to fully understand the new economic reality for families and its impact on children, but we have some early indications.

The questionnaire, Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic, offers a look at how the events of the past year shaped family economic security. In California, 43% of caregivers reported that their household’s financial situation had been negatively impacted from March to November 2020. Related, as of November 2020, 33% of caregivers were unemployed, had left the workforce, or reduced their employment.

Some caregivers accessed social safety net resources such as food banks and public health insurance. Notably, 11% of California families used at least one of eight services for the first time between March and November 2020. This first-time use is seen across income levels as caregivers started utilizing social safety net resources for the first time to safeguard their family’s economic security.

A national perspective from this questionnaire is now available! Family snapshots of life during the pandemic in the United States have just been released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Prevent Child Abuse America, and Tufts Medical Center. Visit this new webpage to find an overview of the questionnaire and AAP recommendations based on their findings. It currently includes two snapshots describing financial impact on families and family closeness despite stress. More snapshots are to come!

The Financial Impact of the Pandemic on Families With Children in the United States notes that findings from the questionnaire are concerning: “Higher family economic stress is associated with more family conflicts and higher rates of child abuse and neglect. The Family Stress Model describes how economic hardship contributes to parent psychological distress. This distress can aggravate relationship problems between parents and disrupt parenting practices. These changes often result in increased problematic child behavior and can lead to a vicious cycle with harsher parenting and more difficult child behavioral problems. Policy makers should be advised about the possible consequences for children when household finances can threaten family stability.” Read more.

Latest Data on Child Well-Being During Pandemic

In addition to data about child and caregiver safety, we have additional data on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on critical areas of children’s health and well-being.

*Data coming soon.



Register for the “Family Experiences During COVID-19 Pandemic Data Webinar”

Thursday, April 29, 2021, from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (PST)

Learn more about the questionnaire, Family Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Drs. Robert Sege from the Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences (HOPE) Project at Tufts Medical Center and Lori Turk-Bicakci from the KidsData program at PRB will provide an overview of the questionnaire, summarize California and national findings, share where to access California data and national snapshots, and offer highlights from the HOPE perspective. The webinar is hosted by the Essentials for Childhood Initiative. Register here.


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