COVID-19 Survey: Insights for Policymakers on Supporting Families

Posted April 18, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Two teenage girls, one Black and one white, sit on the front steps of a house. They each wear hoodies and surgical masks, while balancing a laptop on their laps.

Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

A nation­wide sur­vey, con­duct­ed by Brook­ings with sup­port from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, explores how Amer­i­cans are cop­ing with the dis­rup­tion of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic and offers insights for pol­i­cy­mak­ers to advance equi­ty in sup­port­ing chil­dren, young peo­ple and families.

Con­duct­ed by the IPSOS research firm in March 2022, the sur­vey queried 1,015 peo­ple about COVID-19, explor­ing their sense of con­trol over their lives and what help they need to sup­port their fam­i­lies’ suc­cess. The sur­vey found that the pan­dem­ic had been espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult for women, young peo­ple and Black and Lati­no respon­dents, and that peo­ple in these groups and those earn­ing less than $50,000 annu­al­ly were par­tic­u­lar­ly in need of poli­cies that sup­port improved well-being. Over­all, respon­dents iden­ti­fied lack of access to suf­fi­cient income, health care and qual­i­ty jobs as their top chal­lenges in the wake of the pandemic.

Find­ing a qual­i­ty job was chal­leng­ing before the pan­dem­ic began,” writes Brook­ings Senior Fel­low Camille Busette, the direc­tor of Brook­ings’ Race, Pros­per­i­ty and Inclu­sion Ini­tia­tive, who over­saw the sur­vey. Every­one needs a qual­i­ty job, but it is clear that two years into the pan­dem­ic, that need is most acute for Lat­inx and Black households.”

The sur­vey respons­es echo nation­al data from the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau’s House­hold Pulse Sur­vey that show while peak parental unem­ploy­ment lev­els have par­tial­ly recov­ered since the ear­ly days of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, many fam­i­lies still are fac­ing seri­ous eco­nom­ic dif­fi­cul­ties. The Feb­ru­ary 2022 House­hold Pulse Sur­vey found that 23% of U.S. house­holds with chil­dren lost employ­ment income in the past month.

Sur­vey Find­ings: How Amer­i­cans Feel Dur­ing the Pandemic

The Brook­ings sur­vey doc­u­ment­ed that many Amer­i­cans feel they have lost con­trol of their lives. Women were more like­ly to feel that way, with 26% respond­ing they had lost con­trol, com­pared to 19% of men. Among young peo­ple ages 18 to 34, almost 30% report­ed feel­ing a loss of control.

More Sup­port Needed

The sur­vey also doc­u­ment­ed what respon­dents need to sup­port their fam­i­lies. Slight­ly more than half (53%) of those sur­veyed said they need more income. Among Black and Lati­no respon­dents, 60% said they need­ed more income.

The sur­vey results also high­light­ed the need to expand access to good health care: 

  • About 20% of Black and 27% of Lati­no respon­dents said they need bet­ter health care.
  • Thir­ty% of peo­ple ages 18 to 34 and 25% of those earn­ing less than $50,000 said they need bet­ter health care.

Pol­i­cy Responses

In a blog post about the sur­vey find­ings, Busette rec­om­mends sev­er­al pol­i­cy respons­es, including:

  • expand­ing Med­ic­aid eli­gi­bil­i­ty in states. Eight of the 12 states that have not expand­ed Med­ic­aid eli­gi­bil­i­ty have large per­cent­ages of res­i­dents who are peo­ple of color;
  • using fed­er­al fund­ing from the Amer­i­can Res­cue Plan Act to improve access to afford­able, high qual­i­ty health care and men­tal health ser­vices; and
  • using fed­er­al funds and oth­er resources to cre­ate more afford­able hous­ing with easy access to ameni­ties that will attract good jobs.

These find­ings remind us of how deeply the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has upend­ed lives and high­lights the urgent needs fac­ing so many fam­i­lies, espe­cial­ly low-income fam­i­lies and fam­i­lies of col­or,” says Kari­na Jimenez Lewis, Casey’s asso­ciate direc­tor of Pol­i­cy Reform and Advo­ca­cy and act­ing direc­tor of Equi­ty and Inclu­sion. Young adults are strug­gling to take con­trol of their lives and need our sup­port to gain sol­id foot­ing as they start out. In mak­ing deci­sions about how to sup­port young adults and their fam­i­lies, pol­i­cy­mak­ers must address all of these fac­tors to tru­ly sup­port well-being and suc­cess for the next gen­er­a­tion of par­ents and workers.”

Addi­tion­al Resources on Fam­i­lies and the Pandemic

Casey has sup­port­ed a range of reports and data col­lec­tion efforts relat­ed to the pandemic’s effects, includ­ing Kids, Fam­i­lies and COVID-19 and the 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book. A broad data set about fam­i­lies and chil­dren is avail­able at the KIDS COUNT Data Cen­ter.

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