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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNDER DEVELOPMENT UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Best of UNICEF Research and Evaluation 2020

Evidence and objective assessment are needed more than ever to help enhance the rights and well-being of the world’s children. Researching the changing world around us and evaluating progress are two sides of the same coin, both critical to reimagining a better future for children. In recognition of this, UNICEF celebrates and showcases innovative and influential research and evaluations from our offices around the world every year. For 2020, Innocenti and the Evaluation Office joined forces to find the most rigorous UNICEF studies with greatest influence on policies and programmes that benefit children.

Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in high-income countries
COVID-19 constitutes the greatest crisis that high-income countries have seen in many generations. While many high-income countries experienced the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, or have had national recessions, the COVID-19 pandemic is much more than that. COVID-19 is a social and economic crisis, sparked by a protracted health crisis.

High-income countries have very limited experience of dealing with health crises, having their health and human services stretched beyond capacity, restricting the travel of their populations or having to close workplaces and schools – let alone experience of all of these things combined. These unique conditions create new and serious challenges for the economies and societies of all high-income countries. As these challenges evolve, children – as dependants – are among those at greatest risk of seeing their living standards fall and their personal well-being decline.

This new UNICEF Innocenti report explores how the social and economic impact of the pandemic is likely to affect children; the initial government responses to the crisis; and how future public policies could be optimized to better support children. 
COVID-19: Trends, Promising Practices and Gaps in Remote Learning for Pre-Primary Education
This paper examines the remote learning options that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. It highlights trends, gaps and emerging good practices that are supported by existing evidence.
COVID-19: Trends, Promising Practices and Gaps in Remote Learning for Pre-Primary Education

The first years of a child’s life are critical to building the foundations of learning that help them succeed in school and beyond. Investment in early childhood education results in positive returns, not only for individual children, but also for building more efficient and effective education systems. Recent analysis estimated that every US dollar spent on pre-primary education results in US$9 of benefits to society.

This brief summarizes the key findings and observations from a report on the remote learning options – be it online, television, radio, paper- or mobile-based – that countries around the world have made available for pre-primary students and their families while schools are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was informed by the joint UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank survey of national education responses to COVID-19 and emerging good practices from 10 country case studies.

Supporting Families and Children Beyond COVID-19: Social protection in high-income countries
COVID-19 constitutes the greatest crisis that high-income countries have seen in many generations. While many high-income countries experienced the global financial crisis of 2007–2008, or have had national recessions, the COVID-19 pandemic is much more than that. COVID-19 is a social and economic crisis, sparked by a protracted health crisis.

High-income countries have very limited experience of dealing with health crises, having their health and human services stretched beyond capacity, restricting the travel of their populations or having to close workplaces and schools – let alone experience of all of these things combined. These unique conditions create new and serious challenges for the economies and societies of all high-income countries. As these challenges evolve, children – as dependants – are among those at greatest risk of seeing their living standards fall and their personal well-being decline.

This new UNICEF Innocenti report explores how the social and economic impact of the pandemic is likely to affect children; the initial government responses to the crisis; and how future public policies could be optimized to better support children. 
A Lifeline at Risk: COVID-19, Remittances and Children
Millions of children around the world, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, live in households that receive money and other forms of support from a family member who has moved abroad, or to another part of the same country, to work. This form of assistance, or ‘remittances’, can alleviate household poverty and is often a key support for children’s development. In times of global economic uncertainty, however, remittances can be an unstable source of income for families. The COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting migrant workers’ job security, making it more difficult to send remittances. At the same time, families receiving remittances are facing their own economic and health challenges, meaning that the continuation of remittances is vital to keep them from slipping into poverty. This briefing paper outlines the potential risks of reduction in remittances due to the pandemic for children in households receiving remittances and what can be done to minimize these risks.
Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents

All children are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, often in multiple ways.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is a universal crisis that has been devastating for children, families and communities, and shows no signs of abating as 2021 approaches. Ex­amining the available evidence to understand the poten­tial and actual societal effects on children and identifying viable evidence-based solutions are critical pathways to inform timely policy and programmatic responses. This Executive Summary of the UNICEF Innocenti report Beyond Masks: Societal impacts of COVID-19 and accelerated solutions for children and adolescents provides a review of literature on the societal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as past health and economic shocks, and possible solutions for mitigating impact at individual, household and societal levels.   

The evidence base on the societal impacts of the pandemic is still nascent. For children, it is weaker still, largely due to the paucity of age-disaggregated data and the relatively low number of paediatric studies, particu­larly in low- and middle-income countries and especially beyond the biomedical sphere. Consequently, in order to best inform child-sensitive responses, we also examined evidence from prior epidemics and shocks to find in­sights to inform the current COVID-19 crisis. We looked at the prior societal impacts of previous infectious dis­ease epidemics, including Ebola, Zika, SARS, MERS and tuberculosis, and particularly HIV/AIDS where there is a very robust evidence base.  

While there are promising signs of potential break­throughs for vaccines, rapid non-invasive tests and treatment options – all of which will help to slow and address the impacts of the pandemic – it is likely to be a long time before these interventions are available to all children and families, and particularly the poorest and most disadvantaged. As a result, there is an urgent need to find scalable and cost-effective solutions to the continued and deepening impact of the COVID-19 crisis on them.

Cite this research | No. of pages: 16 | Language: English | Publisher: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
Worlds of Influence: Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries

A new look at children from the world’s richest countries offers a mixed picture of their health, skills and happiness. For far too many, issues such as poverty, exclusion and pollution threaten their mental well-being, physical health and opportunities to develop skills. Even countries with good social, economic and environmental conditions are a long way from meeting the targets set in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Focused and accelerated action is needed if these goals are to be met.

The evidence from 41 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) countries tells its own story: from children’s chances of survival, growth and protection, to whether they are learning and feel listened to, to whether their parents have the support and resources to give their children the best chance for a healthy, happy childhood. This report reveals children’s experiences against the backdrop of their country’s policies and social, educational, economic and environmental contexts.

COVID-19: Effects of school closures on foundational skills and promising practices for monitoring and mitigating learning loss

While remote learning measures are essential for mitigating the short-term and long-term consequences of COVID-19 school closures, little is known about their impact on and effectiveness for learning.

This working paper contributes to filling this gap by: 1. Exploring how disrupted schooling may affect foundational learning skills, using data from MICS6 (Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys - round 6) in 2017–2019; 2. Examining how countries are delivering and monitoring remote learning based on data from the UNESCO-UNICEF-World Bank’s National Education Responses to COVID-19 School Closures survey; and 3. Presenting promising key practices for the effective delivery and monitoring of remote learning.

COVID-19: A reason to double down on investments in pre-primary education
This paper summarizes the recent UNICEF analysis on investing in early childhood education in developing countries. It provides a benefit-cost analysis of investments in pre-primary education in 109 developing low- and middle-income countries and territories, using data from 2008 to 2019.
COVID-19: How are Countries Preparing to Mitigate the Learning Loss as Schools Reopen? Trends and emerging good practices to support the most vulnerable children

Some countries are starting to reopen schools as others develop plans to do so following widespread and extended closures due to COVID-19. Using data from two surveys and 164 countries, this research brief describes the educational strategies countries are putting into place, or plan to, in order to mitigate learning impacts of extended school closures, particularly for the most vulnerable children. In addition, it highlights emerging good practices.

Study Protocol: Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19

 

This protocol details the aims, scope and methodology used for the rapid review titled: “Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19."

 

Cite this research | No. of pages: 18 | Language: English | Topics: Child Protection | Tags: COVID-19 | Publisher: UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
Impacts of Pandemics and Epidemics on Child Protection: Lessons learned from a rapid review in the context of COVID-19

 

This rapid review collates and synthesizes evidence on the child protection impacts of COVID-19 and previous pandemics, epidemics and infectious disease outbreaks. It provides lessons for global and national responses to COVID19 and recommendations for future research priorities.

The evidence on the impacts of pandemics and epidemics on child protection outcomes is limited and skewed towards studies on the effects of HIV/AIDS on stigma. There is also some evidence on the effects of Ebola on outcomes such as orphanhood, sexual violence and exploitation, and  school enrolment, attendance and dropout. The evidence on other pandemics or epidemics, including COVID-19, is extremely limited.

There are various pathways through which infectious disease outbreaks can exacerbate vulnerabilities, generate new risks and result in negative outcomes for children. Outcomes are typically multi-layered, with immediate outcomes for children, families and communities - such as being orphaned, stigmatization and discrimination and reductions in household income - leading to further negative risks and outcomes for children in the intermediate term. These risks include child labour and domestic work, harmful practices (including early marriage), and early and adolescent pregnancy.

Lessons from previous pandemics and epidemics suggest that the following could mitigate the child protection risks:

  • Responding to children in vulnerable circumstances, including orphans (e.g. throughpsychosocial interventions focused on improving mental health and community-based interventions that provide families with resources and access to services)
  • Responding to stigmatization and discrimination (e.g. throughinformation and communication campaigns and support from public health systems, communities and schools)
  • Investing in social protectionenable livelihoods during outbreaks and to counteract shocks
  • Promoting access to health, protective and justice services, which may be restricted or suspending during infectious disease outbreaks
  • Ensuring continued access to education, particularly for girls, who may be adversely affected

There is a high burden of proof for data collection during the current COVID-19 outbreak than there would be in normal circumstances. Evidence generation strategies during and after the COVID-19 crisis should consider rigorous retrospective reviews and building upon monitoring, evidence and learning functions of pre-existing programmes – particularly where there is ongoing longitudinal data collection. There should also be efforts to synthesize evidence from existing research on the effectiveness of interventions that respond to the key risk pathways identified in this review.

 

 

 

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.