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Survey: COVID-19 pandemic deepening inequalities among parents of young children

Kyle S. Mackie
WBFO News file photo
A child plays in the three-year-old room at the nonprofit Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center in Mayville, New York, on Jan. 24, 2020.

Most parents of young children say they’re experiencing more stress now than before the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new statewide survey. But the worst impacts are being disproportionately borne by low-income families and families of color.

The new survey of about 400 parents across New York state with children under four indicates that pre-existing educational and economic inequalities will only be deepened by the coronavirus pandemic.

"Unfortunately, the poll demonstrates that our worst fears were correct, and that families that were historically underserved during so-called 'normal' times are being disproportionately impacted during this crisis," said Ian Rosenblum, executive director of The Education Trust-New York, a steering committee member of the Raising New York coalition, which commissioned the poll.

And the results published Thursday are troubling: More than half of parents of infants and toddlers are “uneasy” about their family’s finances, and 1 in 3 parents are skipping or reducing their own meals because of the pandemic. That includes 42% of Hispanic parents surveyed and 39% of African Americans.  More than 1 in 3 parents of infants and toddlers who normally rely on Head Start programs are also no longer receiving any kind of services.

"It’s heartbreaking to think, 70 years after the civil rights movement, we’re still fighting for the most basic human rights: Access to food, health, economic stability and education for all," said Melodie Baker, director of education at United Way of Buffalo and Erie County and a co-chair of Raising New York.

"My fear is that once this is over, we’ll go back to our regular daily lives and forget what uncertainty and discontentment feels like. If there was ever a time that we need to turn our attention to supporting all of New York’s children and families, it’s now," Baker said.

In addition to greater public investment in child care, several coalition members say that addressing longstanding inequalities will also take efforts to improve food security, minimize the digital divide and expand healthcare access.


Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.
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