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COVID orphans: Study shows 40K children will need deep support after losing parent to virus – KCRA Sacramento

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Apr 8, 2021

As life begins to return to normal for many children heading back to school this month, a new study shows around 40,000 children in the U.S. are dealing with deep grief after losing a parent to COVID-19. They’re now known as “COVID orphans,” and there’s a new focus on how to help them, both immediately and with long-term support. The researchers who lead the study published an article this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics (JAMA Pediatrics). Their modeling looked at COVID-19 deaths from February 2020 through February 2021. They found as many as about 43,000 children lost at least one parent to COVID-19. Older children are especially impacted, according to the study. Researchers found about 11,000 of those who lost parents are under 10 years old, and about 32,000 are ages 10 and older. African American children are disproportionately affected. They make up 14% of the children in our country, but 20% of those who’ve lost a parent to the virus. Keep in mind, this model didn’t track how many children lost both parents, and it doesn’t include other primary caregivers like grandparents who may also have been killed by COVID-19. Obviously, the impacts are profound. The researchers behind this study say children who experience the trauma of losing a parent have a greater risk for depression, poor educational outcomes and unintentional death or suicide. People who work with at-risk kids point out that these losses come on top of all the other hardships of the pandemic, including parents losing jobs and kids falling behind in school as their campuses closed. Founder of Voice of the Youth, Inc., Berry Accius, warns the impacts on these children could last decades, and the layers of damage from the pandemic could end up being harder to treat than the virus itself. Accius hopes these concerns will lead to major investments in community centers and other services that can wrap these children in long-term support. “We have to keep on making sure these kids are OK,” Accius explained. “We can’t just say, ‘Here’s two years. Here’s a two-year block’. If that child needs forever and a day, we have to value forever and a day, because how do you cope with losing a parent when you’ve lost everything else? And let’s be very clear, a lot of these kids never had nothing more but their parents and their family members.” The authors of the study are urging the creation of a national child bereavement group or “cohort” that could identify children who have lost parents, monitor them for signs indicating they need help and provide that care as soon as possible. Early intervention is often critical, and Accius said what these children need most is “a lot of love, a lot of support, a lot of understanding.”For more resources on helping children deal with grief, click here.

As life begins to return to normal for many children heading back to school this month, a new study shows around 40,000 children in the U.S. are dealing with deep grief after losing a parent to COVID-19.

They’re now known as “COVID orphans,” and there’s a new focus on how to help them, both immediately and with long-term support.

The researchers who lead the study published an article this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics (JAMA Pediatrics). Their modeling looked at COVID-19 deaths from February 2020 through February 2021. They found as many as about 43,000 children lost at least one parent to COVID-19.

Older children are especially impacted, according to the study. Researchers found about 11,000 of those who lost parents are under 10 years old, and about 32,000 are ages 10 and older.

African American children are disproportionately affected. They make up 14% of the children in our country, but 20% of those who’ve lost a parent to the virus.

Keep in mind, this model didn’t track how many children lost both parents, and it doesn’t include other primary caregivers like grandparents who may also have been killed by COVID-19.

Obviously, the impacts are profound. The researchers behind this study say children who experience the trauma of losing a parent have a greater risk for depression, poor educational outcomes and unintentional death or suicide.

People who work with at-risk kids point out that these losses come on top of all the other hardships of the pandemic, including parents losing jobs and kids falling behind in school as their campuses closed.

Founder of Voice of the Youth, Inc., Berry Accius, warns the impacts on these children could last decades, and the layers of damage from the pandemic could end up being harder to treat than the virus itself. Accius hopes these concerns will lead to major investments in community centers and other services that can wrap these children in long-term support.

“We have to keep on making sure these kids are OK,” Accius explained. “We can’t just say, ‘Here’s two years. Here’s a two-year block’. If that child needs forever and a day, we have to value forever and a day, because how do you cope with losing a parent when you’ve lost everything else? And let’s be very clear, a lot of these kids never had nothing more but their parents and their family members.”

The authors of the study are urging the creation of a national child bereavement group or “cohort” that could identify children who have lost parents, monitor them for signs indicating they need help and provide that care as soon as possible.

Early intervention is often critical, and Accius said what these children need most is “a lot of love, a lot of support, a lot of understanding.”

For more resources on helping children deal with grief, click here.

 

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