The COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for families around the country. Parents and caregivers are striving to protect the health and well-being of themselves and their children. Many are doing so while juggling new or different work responsibilities, while millions of others are working hard to meet their families’ financial needs after getting laid off or seeing their hours reduced. For parents of school-aged kids, this is all complicated by whether or how often children can go to school.  

To gain insight into how families are managing in these challenging times, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation talked in-depth with parents about their experiences for its Conversations During COVID-19 project. 

Beginning in April the Foundation has heard from a diverse group of parents from around the country about how their lives have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

These stories uncover parents’ fears of bringing the virus home to their kids while balancing the need to keep working in order to pay the bills. The interviews reveal a precarious new normal as some kids are back in school, but parents know that a sickness in the classroom could send them right back home – while other kids are adjusted to at-home learning as their parents worry about what isolation from friends and classmates means for their development. Many caregivers shared that - despite the real difficulties - one silver lining has been spending more time together as a family.

Together, the stories these families shared are an inspiring glimpse into the lengths parents will go to provide for their kids, and illustrates how the nation’s insufficient response to the pandemic has left many families to figure this out all on their own.