By Rachel Metz

While confirmed COVID-19 cases among children are less common than among adults, thousands of children and youth have still contracted the disease. Of course, children and youth are also impacted when a parent, family member, teacher, or other caring adult gets sick. And their family’s economic security and their educational opportunities are also being threatened by the pandemic.

Economic Justice

Loss of Income: Roughly 40% of DC households with children experienced a loss of household employment income since March 13. Families of color disproportionately bear that burden: roughly 20% of white DC households with children reported that being the case.

Youth Unemployment: Between April 2020 and March 2021, thousands more young people received unemployment insurance as during the same period a year earlier. While during the pre-pandemic period an average of only 101 youth under age 22 and 279 youth ages 22-24 received unemployment insurance each month, during the pandemic 1979 youth under ages 22 and 3590 youth ages 22-24 received unemployment insurance. These numbers have been steadily decreasing since re-opening began in late June (from a high of 3315 youth under age 22 and 5824 youth ages 22-24 that month), but it’s unclear how much of the decrease is due to increased employment versus young people running out of unemployment benefits.

Housing Insecurity: Roughly two out of five DC renters with children said they have no or only slight confidence in their ability to make next month’s rent or were deferring their payment, roughly five times the rate of renters without children.

Food Insecurity: Many Black and Latinx adults in households with children report sometimes or often not having enough to eat in the last week. Roughly one in five Black households with children said this.

Educational Opportunities

Early Care & Education Access: In spring 2020 the Center for American Progress estimated that DC may permanently lose more than 20% of child care slots (6,500) due to the pandemic without more dedicated public funding for early learning. As of November 2020 two-thirds of these early learning programs had reopened, but DC families are not re-enrolling children at pre-COVID rates: fewer than one-third of programs reported being fully enrolled. Reduced revenues coupled with increased costs due to the pandemic have resulted in financial strain for child care providers.

Home Device & Internet Access: While there’s been progress since spring 2020, many students of color went far too long without reliably have a device and internet connection for educational purposes, limiting their opportunities.

Out-of-School Time Cuts: At the start of the 2020 school year, DCPS cut its federal funding from 21st Century Community Learning Centers out-of-school- time (OST) programs and redirected it to establish Cares classrooms. This funding had been supporting programs for 6,716 students in 55 schools, and is a significant loss of funding for OST.

Find more information about the impacts of COVID-19 measures in our data references section.

Share This


Rachel Metz is the Research and Data Manager of DC Action.