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.

Vaccinations: DC’s 12-15 year olds face stark disparities in their COVID-19 vaccination rates. While as of June 21, 2021 over 6 in 10 ward 2 and 3 youth in this age range had received at least one vaccine dose, not even 1 in 10 ward 7 and 8 youth in this age range had received a dose.

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, 2020. Families of color disproportionately bear that burden: roughly 18% of white DC households with children reported that being the case.

Youth Unemployment: Between April and July 2020, 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 95 youth under age 22 and 288 youth ages 22-24 received unemployment insurance each month, during the early months of the pandemic 2,836 youth under ages 22 and 5,302 youth ages 22-24 received unemployment insurance. These numbers have been steadily decreasing since re-opening began in late June, but as of April 2021 are still more than four times higher than prior to the pandemic for older youth and roughly eight times higher for younger youth.

Housing Insecurity: Almost half of 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, three 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.

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