How COVID Is Exacerbating Racial Inequities for Infants, Toddlers

Washington, DC, September 3, 2020—Infants and toddlers are experiencing the COVID pandemic at a critical period of their lives, and its impacts on their development are tremendous. Yet young children‘s needs have been virtually absent from policy conversations around the virus. 

Today, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), released a new brief, A Pandemic within a Pandemic: How Coronavirus and Systemic Racism Are Harming Infants and Toddlers of Color, that unpacks the harm of systemic racism to children’s development and describes how the coronavirus pandemic has magnified pervasive inequities in health, education, employment, and other factors across race and ethnicity.

“Infants and toddlers are at a critical stage of development that has lifelong implications for their health and wellbeing. Prior to the pandemic many infants, toddlers, and families faced significant adversity due to centuries of policies that excluded and disregarded people of color, many of which still exist today. The pandemic has exacerbated this. Meeting the needs of Black, Latinx, Native, and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander infants, toddlers, and their families is essential,” said Stephanie Schmit, CLASP senior policy analyst and one of the report’s authors. 

“While the media has rightly covered the critical supports school-age children and their families need during COVID, we can’t forget the needs of infants and toddlers. Young children and their families must be part of COVID-relief conversations or the results will be devastating both now and for years to come,” said Katherine Gallagher Robbins, CLASP’s director of child care and early education and report author. 

The pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated long-standing problems with policies that span the range of need for infants, toddlers, and their families. To address these shortfalls, CLASP recommends a combination of immediate, COVID-specific actions and longer-term policy reform. These recommendations address federal and state policies, recognizing that much of what needs to happen requires action at both levels. The federal government needs to allocate significant funding for meaningful change to occur. 

“This brief recommends centering the voices of people with lived experiences to tackle historically racist and discriminatory policies and address the dual crises this country is currently experiencing in a way that best meets the needs of those who most harmed. By doing so, we can look back years from now with the knowledge that the babies and toddlers of today grew up knowing how much their lives were valued,” said Schmit.

Read the full brief here.

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The Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) is a national, nonpartisan, anti-poverty organization advancing policy solutions for people with low incomes. CLASP’s solutions directly address the barriers people face because of their race, ethnicity, and immigration status.