Budget Cuts Threaten Behavioral Health Services When Students Need Them Most
For the past 8 months, COVID-19 has been impacting children and families in New York in profound and far-reaching ways. Families are grappling with the trauma of sickness and the loss of loved ones. Lost wages and lost jobs have led to severe economic distress, food insecurity, and threats of housing instability and homelessness. Students are struggling with serious learning loss and digital barriers to school and social services, while young children in particular have seen distressing declines in well-child visits, immunizations, and mental and developmental screenings and services. All of these repercussions have overwhelmingly and disproportionately impacted children and families in Black, Latinx, and immigrant households across the city and state.
A new study out this week speak directly to the impact of the pandemic on children. In this September 2020 report from United Hospital Fund, 4,200 of New York State’s 4 million children experienced a parental or caregiver death due to COVID-19, with Black and Hispanic children experiencing parental/caregiver deaths at twice the rate of Asian and white children. 325,000 additional children in New York were pushed into or near poverty due to the pandemic. It is difficult to underestimate the deep, long-lasting effects that these losses and the other hardships of this pandemic will have on the mental health of children.
As families grapple with the challenges of remote learning and the uncertainty of school re-opening, they are also facing an added challenge: How to access behavioral health services in the new school landscape created by COVID-19.