COVID-19 Well-Being

COVID-19 and Children’s Well-Being: a Rapid Research Agenda

In addition to the direct physical effects of COVID-19 infection, children and families potentially face acute and long-term threats to their health and well-being from the larger systemic and social disruptions resulting from society’s response to the pandemic. The secondary effects may not be easily measurable, but have the potential to run deep, with latent effects that may cause significant harm over the lifespan. 

Between July and September 2020, The Life Course Intervention Research Network (LCIRN) facilitated a series of four virtual meetings with 46 stakeholders from ten Maternal and Child Health Research Networks, covering a broad range of disciplines across academia, clinical practice, nonprofit organizations, and family advocacy groups. 

Using a life course health development (LCHD) framing, in which health is regarded as a dynamic process that develops over time, being influenced by a wide range of genetic, epigenetic, biological, psychological and social factors, operating at individual, family, community and global levels, the group focused on those aspects of the pandemic and our response to it that would have the greatest potential to impact the development of children’s well-being over the long-term.

The group explored threats and challenges to children’s well-being, such as school closures and reduced socialization with peers, as well as the opportunities and supports that had emerged during the pandemic response such as the widespread use of telehealth to support both physical and emotional well-being. Identified research priorities included the impacts of the pandemic on children’s mental health and potential interventions to address them; factors impacting individual and community-level resilience; and routes to mitigating disparities in the negative effects of the pandemic on children and families of color. 

The group recommended that all studies integrate an anti-racist research and intervention approach, engage youth and community members, adopt a strengths-based approach, and focus on health equity. The activation of new funding streams including supplemental funding   of existing studies to enable addition of COVID-related questions, and the timely provision of mini-grants could be used to address this agenda. Taking what we learn from studying the response to the pandemic, and using this knowledge to create a new developmental ecosystem for children could be transformative, acting as the catalyst for improvement in the developmental health trajectories of U.S. children throughout their life course.

Click the button below to download the full COVID-19 and Children’s Well-Being Short Report! 

Mental Health Resources

Children’s Mental Health and the Life Course Model

Picture of a pregnant woman and her toddler with their hands on her belly

With rapidly rising rates of mental health disorders, the need for a better understanding of the developmental origins and influence of mental health on children’s behavioral health outcomes has become critical. 

This six-part webinar series, co-organized by the LCRN/LCIRN and the NASEM Forum for Children’s Well-being, focused on exploring how mental health disorders develop over the life span, with a special emphasis on prenatal, early, middle, and later childhood development. This series emphasized identifying gaps in our scientific knowledge, explored new strategies for using existing data to enhance our understanding of the developmental origins of mental disorders, reviewed potential approaches to prevention and optimization, and considered new ways of framing how we understand, address, and prevent disorders from a life course development perspective. The proceedings from this workshop series and the videos of the webinars are are now available online.