Publications Centene Center Education *Research Brief

Impact of COVID-19 on Households with Children

The COVID-19 pandemic caused major disruptions in employment, child care and education. As a result, both parents and children experienced a variety of hardships in their work and education. While these hardships had reverberating effects throughout households, they were not equally distributed across families with children. In this brief, we explore the effects of COVID-19 on families with children, highlighting unaddressed areas of need, as well as potential points of intervention.

In this study we find:

  • Almost one-quarter (22%) of families experienced job or income loss as a result of child care disruptions, which was especially prevalent in households with very low incomes (35%) and strongly associated with child food insecurity.
  • Over one-third (36%) of students only had an online option for learning, which was higher for Black and Hispanic households and was strongly associated with a decrease in school quality and subsequent learning.
  • Over two-fifths (42%) of children experienced decreased time spent with friends and close to one-third experienced decreased time spent on extracurricular activities, which were significantly related to worsening mental and physical health.

Finally, we demonstrate how the CARES Act and other related policies could represent a long-term strategy for supporting families in need.


Muñoz-Rivera, Alejandra; Jabbari, Jason; Roll, Stephen; Kristensen, Katie; and Michal Grinstein-Weiss, “Impact of COVID-19 on Households with Children,” (2021). Social Policy Institute Research.