The COVID-19 pandemic has been the single deadliest acute public health crisis in American history.
More than 900,000 Americans have died in 24 short months, many leaving behind children who have lost a caretaker, role model, and provider.
We know from decades of study of parental loss that children without the appropriate supports – caregivers, mentors, grief camps, family bereavement programs, and deeper mental health supports – are likely to suffer a range of significant and lasting negative effects, such as increased anxiety, depression, substance and alcohol abuse, suicide, lower educational outcomes, and unemployment.
By strengthening the system to support these children and families, we will be helping all children and families who have experienced loss.
COVID Collaborative through its Hidden Pain Initiative is mobilizing government, non-profit, and private sector partners to support the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States who have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID-19.
In December 2021, we released Hidden Pain: Children Who Lost a Parent or Caretaker to COVID-19 and What the Nation Can Do to Help Them, a report providing first of their kind estimates of the number of children who lost a caregiver and concrete recommendations to support them.
The Hidden Pain Initiative is working to bring hope and healing to young people impacted by loss from COVID-19. We will do this by:
Providing Resources for Caregivers
We have organized the best resources available for families, educators, and community members actively working to support children who have experienced this loss.
Equipping Americans to Act
We have all been touched by the pandemic, and we’ve identified ways that the American people can step up to help those children and families most impacted by COVID-19.
Sharing Their Stories
We are bringing together children who have lost a caregiver to COVID-19 to tell their stories and create opportunities for connection and shared healing.
By the Numbers
More than 219,000 children under 18—more than one out of every 360—lost a parent or other in-home caregiver to COVID-19.
Loss of A Parent, A Grandparent Caregiver, or Their Only Caregiver: More than 98,000 children lost a parent to COVID-19 and over 86,000 lost a grandparent caregiver in the home, while more than 17,000 children lost their only in-home caregiver.
Loss by Age: Seventy percent of caregiver (154,483) loss affected those aged 13 and younger. Fifty percent of caregiver loss (109,973) was among elementary and middle-school age children (5-13 years old) and 20 percent (44,510) was among those from birth through 4 years old. More than 29 percent (65,775) of caregiver loss affected youth who were high school age (14-17 years old).
Loss by Race & Ethnicity: Non-White children lost caregiving adults at higher rates than their White peers. American Indian and Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander children lost caregivers at rates about 10 times the rate of White children in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah; Black and Hispanic children at more than 8 and 11 times the rate of White children, respectively.
Loss is Concentrated, but Also Found in Every State in the Country: Six states—Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, New York, and Texas—accounted for half of total caregiver loss from COVID-19. Arizona, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas had the highest rates of caregiver loss, while Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa had the lowest rates.
Loss by Geography, Race, and Ethnicity: The District of Columbia had the widest disparities in caregiver loss, where Black and Hispanic children’s rates of caregiver loss were 10 and 15 times the rates of loss for White children, respectively. The rates of caregiver loss for American Indian and Alaska Native children were more than 10 times those of White children in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Utah.