I’ve been very surprised at the lack of funding directed towards responding to grief,” Kaplow said, regarding efforts to get state legislatures and Congress to fund such training. “People are so ready for the pandemic to be over that they don’t want to acknowledge deaths are occurring – and that the deaths that have already occurred will affect children for years to come.”
Households dealing with the loss of a parent or caregiver “are disproportionately low-income and susceptible to sudden income loss, and many need imminent economic support”, according to the Covid Collaborative’s report. Mexico, Peru, Colombia and South Africa are each developing programs to give Covid orphans grants or monthly stipends, according to the BMJ.
In California, state senator Nancy Skinner developed Hope after she “saw the pandemic was disproportionately affecting low-income families, particularly families of color – almost like a permanent sentence of poverty.” Nearly 38,000 children in California have lost a parent or caregiver to Covid, according to the Global Reference Group for Children Affected by Covid-19; almost two-thirds were Latino.
The group that began working on implementing the Hope program is determining how to find children who have lost parents or caregivers and cross-reference for income, as well as other parameters for disbursing funds to these children when they turn 18.
Moving forward, children living with loss due to the pandemic – and their families – will need a broad range of assistance, from funds for 18-year-olds, such as in California’s program, to peer support or counseling and even practical information such as how to obtain social security survivor benefits, said Emily Walton, of Covid Survivors for Change