According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “over 140,000 kids have experienced the loss of a parent or caretaker since the COVID-19 pandemic began.” The study also noted that the demographic hit hardest by these tragic events were Black and brown children.
ABC News reports that since April of last year, nearly one in 500 children have lost a parent or grandparent due to the pandemic. On top of that, “almost seven out of every 10 who have lost parents or caretakers during this time, are Black, Hispanic or Native American.” It also has been estimated that because of the delta variant surge, the number of children who’ve experienced loss may be higher than 140,000.
The numbers regarding this matter are staggering, according to ABC News:
One of out of every 168 American Indian and Alaska Native children have lost a parent or grandparent who cared for them. During the same time, one out of every 310 Black children have faced such loss. For white children, the risk is lower; one out of every 753 children have lost a parent or caregiver.
The study showed the highest burden of death occurred in Southern border states for Hispanic children, Southeastern states for Black children, and in states with tribal areas for American Indian/Alaska Native populations.
“We were quite disturbed by the racial and ethnic disparities that were appearing in our data,” Susan Hillis, the lead author on the CDC study, told ABC News. “In my mind’s eye, there’s five children standing together and having such an extreme difference in their risk of having to face the death of the very person who is supposed to provide their love, security, education and care. We’re compelled to mount a response that’s effective for them — for all of them.”
The loss of a parent or primary caretaker can lead to a higher risk of poverty, mental health issues, and abuse, the study said. As for children with only one parent, foster care, or moving into another family member’s household would come into play.
“When a child cannot live with their birth parent, almost always the preference would be to place the child with a relative,” Tyreasa Washington, a senior program area director for child welfare, told the Guardian. “Family placement, known as kinship care, provides more stability and is less traumatizing for a child than putting the child with non-kin foster parents.”
Research over the course of the pandemic has shown a large imbalance in health care coverage between racial lines. This may have contributed to the higher death rates for communities of color.