New blogs on how COVID-19 affects home visiting & more

Jul 13, 2020

First 5 Center for Children’s Policy has new blog posts exploring how COVID-19 is affecting families due to changes in home visiting, early intervention, and preventive care.

In a series of blog posts and a corresponding social media campaign (#StrongFamiliesCA), the Center captures the experiences of home visitors who have pivoted to serve families remotely. While initially their work focused on ensuring families were getting their basic needs met, more recently their attention has shifted to ensuring families’ emotional and mental health, as months of isolation take their toll on parents and other caregivers.

COVID-19 also has disrupted early intervention services for many families, and new data shows rates of anxiety and depression are significantly higher in households where a young child has a disability. While screenings as well as intervention services are down during the pandemic, providers are employing innovative ways to reach families virtually so they can have both the treatment and relational benefits of intervention.

Meanwhile, pediatricians and government officials are stepping up efforts to encourage parents to keep well-child visits for their young children, which have fallen off during COVID-19. While some visits are able to be conducted virtually, others –like those involving vaccinations—must occur in person, and some parents are hesitant to enter a medical facility.

The high level of stress that families and children are experiencing during the pandemic is a serious concern. Women in the perinatal period are especially vulnerable to depression and anxiety, and current stressors may exacerbate this tendency. First 5 Orange County’s new perinatal mental health toolkit helps providers identify at-risk parents and guide them to services.

One piece of good news is a recent announcement by the Department of Health Care Services that family therapy will now be a covered Medi-Cal service for children without a mental health diagnosis, which may be particularly important in these times of social isolation and increased stress. Read our blog for an overview of the new rule.
I hope you’ll check out our blog regularly—and please let us know if you have any feedback!

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