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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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Caregivers’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and their children’s behavior

AUTHOR(S)
Stephanie M. Reich; Melissa Dahlin; Nestor Tulagan (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: Journal of Family Issues
The COVID-19 pandemic has financial and emotional impacts on families. This study explored how caregivers’ financial strain and mental health are associated with changes in their young children’s behavior during the pandemic. It additionally considered whether having a sense of purpose moderated these associations. Caregivers (n = 300) in the emergency department of a children’s hospital were surveyed anonymously about changes to their employment (e.g., reduced/increased hours and job loss), ability to pay for expenses and whether their child’s behavior had changed. Aligned with the Family Stress Model, caregivers’ financial strain was associated with poor mental health, inconsistent sleep routines, and changes in children’s problematic and prosocial behaviors. A sense of purpose buffered some of these relationships. Families are differently affected by the pandemic and our findings underscore the need for supporting caregivers’ mental health and connecting them with resources.
Comparing the impact of the first and second wave of COVID-19 lockdown on Slovak families with typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder

AUTHOR(S)
Katarína Polónyiová; Ivan Belica; Hana Celušáková (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Autism
The aim of this research was to compare the mental health of families with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or typically developing children, during the first and the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak in Slovakia. The study is mainly focused on the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress among the parents and maladaptive behavior or sleep disturbances of their children. This research sample consisted of 332 caregivers, 155 of which have children with autism spectrum disorder; 179 surveyed during the first wave and 153 during the second wave. Extensive online parent questionnaire was created, including demographic and specific topic–related questions; Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale–42 questionnaire; and two subscales of Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales—internalizing and externalizing maladaptive behavior.
Socio-emotional struggles of young children during COVID-19 pandemic: social isolation and increased use of technologies

AUTHOR(S)
Raden Pasifikus Christa Wijaya; Beatriks Novianti Bunga; Indra Yohanes Kiling (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Journal of Early Childhood Research
COVID-19 pandemic has caused young children to be isolated from their neighborhood only interacting with people living under the same roof as them, to avoid spreading the virus. Limited social interaction might have affected young children’s social and emotional development. This study aimed to explore the socio-emotional struggles of young children during the pandemic. Participants in the study were 12 mothers of young children living in West Timor, Indonesia. Data were obtained using the photovoice method. Thematic analysis resulted in four main themes, which are increased use of technologies, lack of social interaction, parents’ concerns, and boredom and increased need for stimuli.
Tweens are not teens: the problem of amalgamating broad age groups when making pandemic recommendations

AUTHOR(S)
Brae Anne McArthur; Sheri Madigan; Daphne J. Korczak

Published: October 2021   Journal: Canadian Journal of Public Health
Demarcating childhood into two distinct and broad 10-year age bands of over and under age 10 is a disservice to our tween population (9–12 years), and may be overlooking our role in understanding the negative impacts of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) during a formative period of development. This commentary, discusses the importance of considering tweens as a unique population of youth who are differentially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It first describes the distinctive progress of tweens across various facets of developmental health, followed by recommendations to improve understanding and address impact of the pandemic and its restrictions on tweens. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large impact on the day-to-day lives of tweens and what is done now will have long-lasting effects on their lifelong trajectories.
The behavioural outcomes of children with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities as perceived by parents during the COVID-19 lockdown

AUTHOR(S)
Kathleen Franz; Michelle E. Kelly

Published: October 2021   Journal: Disabilities
The COVID-19 lockdown and closure of schools, clinics, and community-based services put children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and other developmental disabilities (DDs) at increased risk of negative outcomes. This study aimed to investigate parents’ perceptions of their children’s behavioural outcomes during the COVID-19 lockdown, parents’ satisfaction with services during this time, and willingness to engage in telehealth. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Ireland. Parents (n = 89) completed an online questionnaire that included the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ-P). Results demonstrated that children with ASD/DDs were vulnerable to negative outcomes including hyperactivity, emotional symptoms, problems with peers and fewer prosocial behaviors.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with special needs: a descriptive study

AUTHOR(S)
Ayse Mete Yesil; Buse Sencan; Emel Omercioglu (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Clinical Pediatrics
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, children with special needs may have challenges. To determine emotional and behavioral challenges, 116 children aged 4 to 6 years, who received special education, were evaluated. COVID-19 negatively affected the families at a rate of 94.6%; 76.5% of the children’s daily routines were worsened. Although the one-on-one time duration with the mother and father increased (73.5% and 66.7%), reading books (40.6%), play (17.2%), and overall activity durations (25.7%) decreased. The median screen time increased from 1 to 3 hours. According to the families, there was a regression in development in 18.8% of children. Special education practices at home were ceased by 17.2% of families, and a significant difference was found between the groups with and without regression in development in terms of the frequency of continuing special education at home. The development of children with special needs is an ongoing urgent situation; thus, besides protecting and promoting physical health during the pandemic, families and children should also be supported for developmental needs.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on developmental care practices for infants born preterm

AUTHOR(S)
Melissa Scala; Virginia A. Marchman; Edith Brignoni-Pérez (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Early Human Development

This study aims to o assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rates of hospital visitation and rates and durations of developmental care practices for infants born preterm. It analyzed electronic medical record data from 129 infants born at less than 32 weeks gestational age (GA) cared for in the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) in a COVID-19-affected period (March 8, 2020 to Nov 30, 2020, n = 67) and the analogous period in 2019 (n = 62). Rates of family visitation and of family- and clinical staff-delivered developmental care were compared across cohorts, adjusting for covariates.

Love and peace across generations: biobehavioral systems and global partnerships

AUTHOR(S)
James F. Leckman; Liliana Angelica Ponguta; Gabriela Pavarini (et al.)

Published: October 2021   Journal: Comprehensive Psychoneuroendocrinology
Children's environments - especially relationships with caregivers - sculpt not only developing brains but also multiple bio-behavioral systems that influence long-term cognitive and socioemotional outcomes, including the ability to empathize with others and interact in prosocial and peaceful ways. This speaks to the importance of investing resources in effective and timely programs that work to enhance early childhood development (ECD) and, by extension, reach communities at-scale. Given the limited resources currently devoted to ECD services, and the devastating impact of COVID-19 on children and communities, there is a clear need to spur government leaders and policymakers to further invest in ECD and related issues including gender and racial equity. This essay offers concrete examples of scholarly paradigms and leadership efforts that focus on child development to build a peaceful, equitable, just, and sustainable world.
Seeing rainbows through the storms of a health condition: making space for LGBTQ+ young people to have their identity acknowledged

AUTHOR(S)
Jaymie Huckridge; Asher Arnold; James McParland

Published: September 2021   Journal: Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
LGBTQ+ youth accessing healthcare settings manage the ‘storms’ of health conditions (e.g. pain, fatigue, social isolation, etc.) while navigating emerging identity exploration and understandings in settings which may have historically overlooked or disaffirmed these identities. The launch of National Health Service Rainbow Badges across the paediatric division of an inner-city hospital provided a context for staff to begin thinking about their practice, development needs and dilemmas in working with LGBTQ+ youth. Through a programme of activity that included staff training, surveys, focus groups and youth engagement, caregivers gained insight into current practice in supporting LGBTQ+ youth and families. This paper presents their findings, ideas for responding to challenges, and areas for future development, including implications in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
SARS-CoV-2 screening testing in schools for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities

AUTHOR(S)
Michael R. Sherby; Tyler J. Walsh; Albert M. Lai (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in schools primarily for typically developing children is rare. However, less is known about transmission in schools for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), who are often unable to mask or maintain social distancing. The objectives of this study were to determine SARS-CoV-2 positivity and in-school transmission rates using weekly screening tests for school staff and students and describe the concurrent deployment of mitigation strategies in six schools for children with IDD.
Global estimates of the implications of COVID-19-related preprimary school closures for children’s instructional access, development, learning, and economic wellbeing
Published: August 2021   Journal: Child Development
Observational data collected prior to the pandemic (between 2004 and 2019) were used to simulate the potential consequences of early childhood care and education (ECCE) service closures on the estimated 167 million preprimary-age children in 196 countries who lost ECCE access between March 2020 and February 2021. COVID-19-related ECCE disruptions were estimated to result in 19.01 billion person-days of ECCE instruction lost, 10.75 million additional children falling “off track” in their early development, 14.18 million grades of learning lost by adolescence, and a present discounted value of USD 308.02 billion of earnings lost in adulthood. Further burdens associated with ongoing closures were also forecasted. Projected developmental and learning losses were concentrated in low- and lower middle-income countries, likely exacerbating long-standing global inequities.
Preliminary evaluation of a multicomponent youth development program for siblings separated by foster care: pandemic related impacts to service delivery and youth well-being

AUTHOR(S)
Jeffrey Waid; Cynthia Dantas

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Public Child Welfare
A preliminary evaluation of a multicomponent youth development program for siblings in foster care was conducted prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pretest posttest measures of youth well-being were collected from sixteen youth, caregivers, and caseworkers over a six-month period. Caregivers reported increased internalizing and externalizing behaviors, sibling relationship difficulties, prosocial behavior, and resilience during the study period. Youth reported reduced school engagement, increased resilience, and prosocial behavior. In-person sibling programming was associated with increased prosocial behavior. Virtual sibling programming was associated with lower hyperactivity, increased prosocial behavior, and increased emotional problems. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Egyptian and Roma adolescents’ perspectives on their developmental assets in Albania during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Diana Miconi; Eglantina Dervishi; Nora Wiium (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Journal of Research on Adolescence
This mixed-method study explores the accessibility of developmental assets among Egyptian and Roma minority youth in Albania during the COVID-19 pandemic. Six focus groups were conducted in August 2020 with Egyptian (n = 16) and Roma (n = 15) adolescents (14–20 years, Mage = 16.71; SDage = 2.00; 14 girls and 17 boys). In addition, adolescents rated how much they experienced each developmental asset. Descriptive and thematic analyses highlighted: (1) low developmental assets and barriers to accessing resources, (2) mental health concerns and coping strategies, (3) the role of proximal contexts of life, and (4) experiences within the society in terms of discrimination, integration, and contribution to society. Inter-sectoral community-based interventions are urgently needed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on minority youth.
Depressed and socioeconomically disadvantaged mothers’ progression into a randomized controlled mobile mental health and parenting intervention: a descriptive examination prior to and during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Kathleen M. Baggett; Betsy Davis; Elizabeth A. Mosley (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Infants of low-income and depressed mothers are at high risk for poor developmental outcomes. Early parenting mediates infant experiences from birth, and early intervention can support sensitive and responsive parent practices that optimize infant outcomes via promoting developmental competencies. However, low-income and depressed mothers experience substantial challenges to participating in early intervention. They also have extremely limited access to interventions targeting depression. Interventions targeting maternal depression and parent practices can improve maternal and infant outcomes. Mobile internet-based interventions overcome numerous barriers that low-resource mothers face in accessing home-based interventions. Pandemic-related stressors likely reduce family resources and exacerbate distress of already heavily-burdened mother-infant dyads. During crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence-based remote coaching interventions are paramount. This article reports on a mobile intervention for improving maternal mood and increasing parent practices that promote infant development. An ongoing randomized controlled trial study provided a unique opportunity to monitor progression from referral to intervention initiation between two groups of depressed mothers: those prior to the pandemic and during the pandemic. The study also examines mother and infant characteristics at baseline. The sample consisted primarily of Black mothers experiencing extreme poverty who self-referred to the study in a large southern city, which is one of the most income disparate in the United States.
Differences in psychological and behavioral changes between children following school closure due to COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Kiwamu Nakachi; Kentaro Kawabe; Rie Hosokawa (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Psychiatry Journal
School closure due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pushed children across ages and nationalities into a state of mental health crisis. In Japan, children between the ages of 6 and 18 were ordered to stay at home and observe social distancing for several months. This study is aimed at investigating the effects of quarantine due to COVID-19 on children belonging to different developmental stages in life. Data were collected from mothers of typically developing children aged between 6 and 18 years. The differences in psychological and behavioral changes following school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic were explored.
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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.