A new report from First Things First highlights the challenges Arizona’s young children faced before the pandemic, and how some of those barriers to quality education and health may have worsened for children birth to age 5.
“So much of the public dialogue on COVID-19 has centered around the impact on adults or the impact on major systems, like health care or the economy,” FTF Board Chair Gerald Szostak said. “But, we sometimes forget that the two biggest influences on children’s healthy development are their interactions with adult caregivers and their environment.
“What this means is that young children are being impacted by the pandemic now, and — unless we take concrete steps to support kids and families as our state emerges from COVID-19 — that impact could be felt for generations to come.”
Building Bright Futures, FTF’s biennial assessment of the status of young children, reveals that before the pandemic, Arizona’s young children faced multiple barriers to success. The report also highlights areas in which doctors, educators and other professionals are sounding the alarm about COVID-19’s impact on young children, like:
- Fewer children receiving immunizations and regular screenings to ensure healthy development;
- Children losing access to early learning due to the on-going child care crisis; and,
- The potential impact that adverse childhood experiences – like their caregivers’ job loss, increased stress, mental health issues and family violence – could have on children’s long-term health and well-being.
“Building Bright Futures is a reminder that we cannot forget the needs of young children as our state emerges from the pandemic,” Szostak said. “We hope it encourages robust community dialogue on how we can all do our part to ensure children have the support they need to arrive at kindergarten healthy and prepared to succeed.”