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Stories of Resilience: COVID-19's Impact on America’s Families

In 2020, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, StoryCorps recorded dozens of conversations with families across America, who shared their experiences of living during the COVID-19 pandemic. They shared their fears, hardships and inspiring stories of resilience.  

While we’re all impacted by COVID-19, some families have had particularly tough realities, with limited support systems and policies that protect their health and well-being. The stories spotlight the stigma and disparities that exist in our society, and highlight the challenges families face in accessing services, such as child care and food security programs. The families also share strategies they used to overcome those barriers. 

The 12 stories in the StoryCorps recording series challenge us to think about what could be possible if U.S. families had equitable access to resources and opportunity. 

Child Care Providers and Families Who Access Child Care

COVID-19 has highlighted the U.S.’s significant, historical underinvestment in early care and education. Before the pandemic, the child care system was already fragile and underfunded, limiting access to many families. In addition, children of color and children from families with low-income specifically are less likely to be enrolled in high-quality early care and education programs. Child care staff are undervalued and underpaid, and female caregivers, especially women of color, are typically hurt the most because they bear the brunt of formal and informal care. 

Baby girl sitting up with flowers in her hand and 2 ponytails

Listen to personal conversations about the struggle to afford and access child care. Hear about challenges that providers face in operating early care and education programs during the pandemic.


Grandfamilies

More than 2.7 million children in the United States live in grandfamilies—families in which grandparents, other adult family members or close family friends are raising children. Although older adults are being cautioned to keep their distance from children because of the heightened risk of infection from COVID-19, this guidance is impossible for grandfamilies.

These caregivers of grandfamilies help us understand the unique impact COVID-19 has on their type of family, which our society overlooks.

A Black grandfather in a wheel chair holding out his arms to greet his grandson and granddaughter for hugs along with his wife

Listen to their fears of contracting and dying from COVID-19, barriers to accessing healthy food, and how much affordable housing and social connections mean to them.


Families who Participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)

More than 6.3 million people, including about half of all infants born in the United States, access WIC. Although national data on WIC enrollment during the pandemic are not yet available, prior research on the impact of unemployment and rising food insecurity suggests that WIC enrollment will increase.

Black mom holding her baby and feeding baby a bottle of milk

Hear from women who are thankful for WIC as they navigate life’s unexpected challenges during COVID-19, such as being newly unemployed, raising newborns and caring for children with special needs.


The stories were collected in partnership with Child Care Aware of America, Generations United, and the National WIC Association, who advocate for better policies for families. 

Story Type
long form written
Topics
Child Care, COVID-19, Early Childhood, Grandfamilies, and WIC
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