Giving Compass' Take:

• As COVID-19 stretches into multiple weeks, families with younger children struggle to get the supplies they need and find support systems that can help alleviate burdens. 

• How can donors help families with infants and toddlers access the care they need? 

• Read how Illinois is helping essential workers with childcare during COVID-19.  

Patricia Guzman sounds tired. She’s juggling a 2-month old infant and a rambunctious 4-year-old who doesn’t understand why he’s been stuck inside so long.

The panic buying in Chicago began in mid-March around the time that Guzman’s husband was sent home on mandatory leave from his job as a forklift operator. Worried about money, the couple quickly discovered nearby stores were sold out of baby formula. Guzman recalls sending her husband out to buy distilled water to mix what she had, and him coming up short.

“Everybody was buying everything,” she said, “My husband had to go to five different stores to get me two gallons (of distilled water), you can’t just use tap water in baby formula.”

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into multiple weeks, it has had cascading effects on families, from stay-at-home orders and school closures, to layoffs, hospitalizations, and deaths.

While public school districts throughout the country have quickly pivoted to provide meals, tech devices, and learning materials for K-12 children, low-income families with infants and toddlers have found no equivalent safety net.

As a result, they’ve been largely left to figure it out on their own. But as hardship and limits on daily life grow, so do their needs, outpacing the existing ad-hoc efforts led by community groups, nonprofits, and churches.

The rapid onset and unprecedented nature of the coronavirus pandemic left everyone scrambling: families, to be sure, but also governments and the patchwork of social service agencies overseeing health care networks and child care. Before coronavirus, the picture of support for young families was fragmented. To some, it now feels nonexistent.

Read the full article about impact of COVID-19 on families with young children by Cassie Walker Burke at Chalkbeat.