What the COVID-19 pandemic reveals about racial differences in child welfare and child well-being
Published: February 2021
Journal: Race and Social Problems
This paper introduces the special issue on race, child welfare, and child well-being. In doing so, I summarize the evidence of racial/ethnic disparities in child well-being after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent findings demonstrate that, compared to white children, black and Latino children are more likely to have experienced poverty and food insufficiency, to have had parents lose their jobs, and to be exposed to distance learning and school closures during the pandemic. I argue that though COVID-19 has indeed worsened racial/ethnic disparities in child well-being, it has also served to place a spotlight on the American welfare state’s historical mistreatment of low-income families and black and Latino families in particular. Consider that around three-fourths of black and Latino children facing food insufficiency during the pandemic also experienced food insufficiency prior to the onset of the pandemic. Moving forward, analyses of racial/ethnic disparities in child well-being during the pandemic, I argue, must not only consider the economic shock and high unemployment rates of 2020, but the failure of the American welfare state to adequately support jobless parents, and black and Latino parents in particular, long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived.