by Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.
The COVID-19 pandemic has the capacity to affect every person in the world—and how each individual responds can potentially affect everyone else. In addition to the efforts of courageous health care providers, first responders, and a wide range of workers providing other vital services, countless numbers of selfless individuals are leaping into action to meet the rapidly changing needs of people most affected by the economic, social, and health impacts of this crisis. We at the Center on the Developing Child especially wish to honor and support the extraordinary efforts of our colleagues across the early childhood community who are working tirelessly to assure the continuing availability of essential services while focusing public attention on the many challenges facing families with young children.
For More Information
See below for relevant resources on COVID-19.
Updated April 2, 2020
At this early stage of what is sure to be a long-term challenge, two lessons are already clear.
(1) The immediate effects and long-term impacts of this rapidly changing situation will not be evenly distributed. The stresses of caregiving (for children as well as for adults at greater risk) are rising for everyone. For the millions of parents who were already struggling with low-wage work, lack of affordable childcare, and meeting their family’s basic needs from paycheck to paycheck, the stresses are increasing exponentially. When unstable housing, food insecurity, social isolation, limited access to medical care, the burdens of racism, and fears related to immigration status are added, the toxic overload of adversities can also lead to increasing rates of substance abuse, family violence, and untreated mental health problems. We cannot lose sight of the massive consequences of these threats to the health and development of our most vulnerable children and their families—now and for years to come. Yet our hope comes from the dedicated, creative individuals and organizations that are innovating minute by minute to overcome barriers in collaboration with the people they serve—often in the face of threats to their own health and economic well-being. We salute these inspiring efforts and we pledge our support in whatever way we can.
(2) Acting on the best available and most credible scientific knowledge has never been more essential, yet science by itself does not have all the answers. Coming from two very different areas of research, the most highly relevant science-based messages are urging both supportive relationships and social distancing as critical priorities. Prolonged physical separation is absolutely necessary to slow down the progression of a pandemic; responsive social interaction is essential for strengthening resilience in the face of adversity. Reconciling these conflicting necessities and developing effective strategies requires the combined wisdom of rigorous scientific thinking, on-the-ground expertise, and the lived experiences of a wide diversity of people and communities. As we pull out all the stops to prevent broader infection, we must also remain vigilant in caring proactively for those who are especially vulnerable to the threat and consequences of social isolation.
This is a moment in time for all of us to stretch the limits of our abilities and the boundaries of our creative capacities. Our Center is assembling easily accessible and actionable scientific knowledge for supporting the developmental needs of young children and their families in this current context—and we’re eager to learn from your efforts so we can, in turn, use our platform to share those insights with others. We’re also mobilizing our website and social media channels to shine a bright light on the rich resources available from many other organizations.
The question is not whether we will get through the ordeal that lies ahead—because we will. The important questions are how well we can work together to protect all young children and their families and how much we will learn from this unprecedented challenge and make necessary changes for the future. Please remain connected, stay safe, and share your creative ideas so we can all learn from them.
- CDC: For Child Care Programs That Remain Open
- Child Care Education Institute: Self-Care
- ChildCare Aware of America: Coronavirus Updates and Resources for Child Care Providers and CCR&Rs
- ChildCare Aware of America: Quédese actualizado con las noticias y los recursos más recientes sobre el Coronavirus
- Committee for Economic Development: Coronavirus Resources for Child Care Providers
- Home Grown: Home-Based Child Care Emergency Fund Toolkit
- Home Grown: Resources for Home-Based Child Care Providers
- Maine Public Radio: COVID-19 Impacts: Child Care
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Office of Child Care COVID-19 Resources
- WA Best Starts for Kids: We want social distancing, not social isolation
- Food Research & Action Center: The FRAC Advocate’s Guide to the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP)
- No Kid Hungry: Coronavirus Grant Request
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service: FNS Response to COVID-19
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service: Using USDA Food During a Human Pandemic Outbreak Options for Schools and Communities
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Interim Guidance for Homeless Shelters: Plan, prepare and respond to coronavirus disease 2019
- National Low Income Housing Coalition: Coronavirus and Housing/Homelessness
- Alliance for Early Success: Latest COVID-19 Actions by State
- Bipartisan Policy Center: Child Care Supports in Federal Policy
- Bipartisan Policy Center: Unemployment Compensation Support for Child Care Providers
- Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center
- Georgetown University Health Policy Institute: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center
- Hunt Institute: State Child Care Actions
- National Women’s Law Center: This fact sheet produced by the NWLC offers insight into the challenges and questions home-based providers are grappling with and makes policy recommendations to support and sustain home-based child care providers through the COVID-19 crisis. Please share this resource widely.
- NCSL Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources for States
- The Seattle Times: The Social Repercussions of the Coronavirus Will Not Spare Children
Guidance for Parents and Caregivers
- Child Trends: Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Common Sense Media: Resources for Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic
- Early Learning Nation: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving COVID-19: 8 Strategies to Keep Children Healthy and Happy
- Harvard Graduate School of Education: Helping Children Cope with Coronavirus and Uncertainty
- National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
- The Dunn Lab: Science-Based Strategies to Protect Your Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- ZERO to THREE: Tips for Families: Coronavirus
- Center on the Developing Child: Activities Guide: Enhancing and Practicing Executive Function Skills with Children from Infancy to Adolescence
- Center on the Developing Child: Mejora y Práctica de las Habilidades de Función Ejecutiva con Niños desde la Infancia Hasta la Adolescencia
- PBS Daily Activities for Families
- Peep and the Big Wide World Videos y Actividades para los padres de familia
- Early Childhood Development Action Network: Early Childhood Focused COVID-19 Resources
- Goshen: Ech Gadalta! (How You’ve Grown!) Resources in English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Russian and Amharic
- Help Me Grow: Affiliate Resources for Responding to COVID-19
- NAEYC: Coping with COVID-19
- National Institute for Early Education Research: Resources for Early Childhood Policymakers on Preventing and Preparing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- NIEER: Beyond Borders in a Crises: the Global Response to Support Children
- Promise Venture Studios: For parents, caregivers, educators, and program leaders
- Raising Children: The Australian Parenting Website Coronovirus family guide
Health Care and Medical Information
- American Academy of Pediatrics: For Families
- American Academy of Pediatrics: For Pediatricians
- CDC: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding
- NICHQ: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Information for Children’s Health Advocates
- World Health Organization: Coronavirus