Resources for Supporting Children’s Well-Being During a Public Health Crisis

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Two adults and a child have a pillow fight in a sunny living room.

For parents and educators, children’s well-being is paramount. Whether raising or educating a child, it’s important to do everything possible to ensure that the child is well-equipped to transition into adulthood. Ensuring children’s well-being means keeping the child safe, promoting physical wellness, and minimizing exposure to illness or disease.

The concept of children’s well-being also encompasses emotional, economic, and environmental factors. According to the Child & Family Policy Center, well-being includes all factors that “contribute to healthy development through consistent, nurturing home and community environments.”

Children’s well-being matters not just because we want all kids to live happy lives but also because childhood well-being is closely linked to mental and physical health in adulthood. “We know from our research that children with low well-being are more likely to have problems in their lives including with their physical and mental health,” states The Children’s Society. “It’s important for society as a whole that children have the right support around them — at home, at school, in their neighborhood, and beyond to make sure that every child has the opportunity to thrive.”

Promoting children’s well-being is especially important during a public health crisis. Check out these resources for parents and teachers to help children cope.

The Elements of Children’s Well-Being

A child’s well-being is best understood in holistic terms. Several components contribute to well-adjusted adulthood, including economic, education, health, and community factors.

Economic Factors

Economic strain, such as a parent’s unemployment or lack of affordable housing, can distract children from doing their best work in school. It has also been linked with negative cognitive development. Additionally, economic burdens often create difficulties in accessing nutritional food, adequate health care, and academic support services.

Education Factors

Education plays a huge role in shaping children’s well-being. Participation in extracurricular activities has been linked with positive development. In addition, basic literacy is vital for ensuring that children grow up to be well-adjusted members of society.

Health Factors

Physical health is another key component in a child’s overall well-being. Sound nutrition, both at home and at school, is a major concern. Exercise can help promote a healthy lifestyle and minimize the risk of obesity. Access to health care ensures that a child is developing properly and that any illnesses or chronic conditions are addressed through the right medical treatment.

Community Factors

Something else that can impact a child’s well-being is neighborhood. A community fraught with violence or poverty is unhealthy. However, communities that offer child support services empower families to weather obstacles.

How a Public Health Crisis Impacts Children’s Well-Being

A pandemic or an infectious disease outbreak can adversely impact the way kids grow up. Some key considerations include the following:

  • During a public health crisis, socioeconomic stability is threatened. This became very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, when unemployment levels soared amid business closures.
  • Public health crises can exacerbate ongoing children’s health conditions. Again, the COVID-19 pandemic provides clear examples. Parents who lost their jobs may have a harder time providing their kids with access to sound nutrition and health care, causing preexisting issues like obesity to worsen.
  • Living through an extended period of heightened anxiety or uncertainty can create a sense of childhood trauma, impeding healthy mental and emotional development.

When it comes to protecting a child’s well-being, both during and after a crisis like COVID-19, parents are on the front line of defense. It falls to them to monitor their children’s nutrition, anxiety, physical activity, and general well-being. Educators also play a considerable role, identifying any performance issues that kids are having, telling parents about resources in the community, and helping to provide a sense of normalcy through remote learning.

Children’s Well-Being and Public Health Crises

Additional insights into public health and children’s well-being include the following:

Resources for Protecting a Child’s Physical Health

How can parents and teachers protect their children’s well-being during a public health crisis? The top priority is ensuring that children are safe and that their physical health is safeguarded. A number of resources, including tools, programs, and strategies, can help.

Resources for Protecting a Child’s Mental and Emotional Health

In addition to preserving a child’s physical health, parents and teachers can help kids maintain optimal mental and emotional well-being. The following resources can help:

Resources for Maintaining a Child’s Educational Path

A public health crisis disrupts all areas of life, including a child’s education. To make sure children aren’t academically shortchanged during a public health emergency, it’s important for parents and teachers alike to have educational contingency plans in place. A few resources to consider:

Promote Children’s Well-Being, Even in a Crisis

Parents and teachers alike want to do right by the children entrusted to them, even during difficult times. This means taking a holistic view of children’s well-being and ensuring that they stay on the path to a healthy adulthood.


Additional Resources:

Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, “America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2019”

Foundation for Child Development, “Determinants of Health and Well-Being for Children of Immigrants: Moving From Evidence to Action”

NPR, “CDC: Childhood Trauma Is a Public Health Issue and We Can Do More to Prevent It”

Taylor & Francis Online, “Psychosocial Well-Being in Adulthood in Response to Systemic Barriers in Kinship Care as Experienced During Adolescence”

Population Reference Bureau, “2018 Kids Count Data Book: Trends in Child Well-Being”

U.S. Department of Education, Early Learning Resources