More than 1,000 children in Wisconsin lost a parent or grandparent to COVID-19 by the middle of last year, according to a report from the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health.
The statistics released earlier this month are from the beginning of the pandemic to June 2021.
A researcher studying child care said it could have drastic consequences, such as depression and suicide, to leave their trauma unchecked. They are more likely to drop out of school and fall victim to sexual abuse, said Stem Brook University epidemiologist Rachel Kidman.
“Those kids are facing a real uphill battle,” Kidman said.
Wisconsin’s share of orphans due to COVID-19 is one of the lowest in the country. Still, the state has racial differences among children suffering this type of loss, It reported Wisconsin Public Radio.
Native Americans or Native American children in Alaska, Wisconsin, are nearly five times as likely to have lost a caregiver to COVID-19 compared to their white counterparts, the report said. For Wisconsin’s black children, the rate is 2.5 times higher than for white children.
Some remedies, Kidman said, include offering counseling and positive parenting programs, approving an extended child tax deduction to help lift families out of poverty, find stable and supportive caregivers and provide family leave.
Kidman found that 40,000 children in the United States became orphans due to the pandemic between February 2020 and February 2021. That equates to about one orphan for every 13 COVID-19 deaths nationwide.
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