The American Academy of Pediatrics recently released its Blueprint for Children, focused on ways the pandemic affects children’s lives. However, the Blueprint also offers recommendations on how to improve kids’ lives as everyone adjusts to living through the pandemic.
The report emphasizes what many other reports already do: children of color have suffered the most throughout this pandemic. They’ve dealt with higher rates of contracting and dying from COVID-19, as well as losing access to resources that help them meet essential needs.
Dr. Emily Scott is president of the Indiana Academy of Pediatrics, and a pediatrician. She said pediatricians, schools and other agencies have made it their priority to help families meet essential needs throughout the pandemic.
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Scott notes that when schools closed at the beginning of the pandemic, so did access to services for millions of kids across the country, most of those services in place to help the most vulnerable kids. She said the most important thing that leaders and policymakers can do for children, is make sure no one gets left behind in terms of health care.
“We just really need to strengthen and protect Medicaid and CHIP and the Affordable Care Act, so that children, no matter their background, are all covered under quality health insurance,” she said.
Scott said easier enrollment for health care programs could also help cover more kids and make sure they get the care they need, especially for kids with disabilities who need access to services like therapists.
"They have been pulled out of their structure and support systems as well, and it’s been difficult for our kiddos to keep getting the support services they need," she said. "This has been another big challenge for families and for pediatricians as well, is trying to brainstorm how to continue to get these services to these kids, that they were getting through schools."
The Blueprint also notes that factors such as climate change, food insecurity and poor families losing jobs is also adding to stress factors that will impact kids for years to come in the form of trauma, which access to health care, could also help manage.