COVID-19 & Children: What You Should Know

Child Playing

I have experienced a lot of gut wrenching situations involving children as a Family Law attorney for over 43 years but I have never been through anything like this pandemic

At first, I thought the risk would taper off after a few weeks; that all our inconveniences would wash away after April. Courts are practically shut down, people with health issues are afraid to go to the hospital and families are running short of resources.

Clients’ telephone calls to me have become urgent. Their fights with their exes about their children were even more disturbing because it is very difficult to get in front of a judge. From the child’s perspective, they are not only dealing with the uncertainty of whether their family would get ill but having to watch their parents fight continuously.

Still decades of research show that children are resilient if protective factors are set in place. This goes for adults as well. For example, children need quality time with their nurturing caregivers. This time must be constant and uninterrupted, going outside, reading books, cooking, etc.

If you are unable to be in their presence, use online video chats. This should include extended family. Know your family resource centers in your community. Check your local Children’s Bureau. Additionally, check the Child Welfare COVID website, which is a collaborative project of non-governmental organizers, including advocacy organizations that are working together to assess the effect COVID is having on children’s welfare. The primary contributors include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Defense Fund, Child Focus, to mention just a few. The website shares resources to help families that are impacted by COVID.

According to the Child Welfare COVID website March survey:

  • Housing instability has increased 39% (People have either been forced to move or fear losing their housing)
  • 27% have food insecurity
  • 18% are in financial crisis
  • 32% have less than a week of money to pay basic needs.

And finally, there is the isolation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has carefully studied these risks and issued a report in 2018 identifying family social isolation as one of the leading risk factors for child mistreatment.

Recognize your child’s emotional or behavioral changes (e.g. Anxiety, anger, sadness) and allow your child to find ways to express their emotions.

Find ways to reassure your children but be sure they maintain routines and find ways to empathize the positive. For example, Audible on Amazon, is allowing free books online as long as schools are closed. Make sure your children are able to have virtual playtime with their friends on a regular basis. Let’s not forget your own need for support and reassurance. Find time for relaxation and joyful activities without your children. Find a buddy that you can talk to every other day. After all, if you are distressed your children will be even more distressed.

Finally, remember that there are resources out there for you and your children. Don’t lose hope and stay safe.

If you need legal assistance for a divorce, child custody, or another family law matter during the pandemic, Roberts Sparks Attorneys is here to help. Call or contact us online to speak with a lawyer.