To the Voices’ family,
March 11, 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of the day in which the world changed for everyone. In very short order, the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, professional sports teams ended their seasons, schools closed, and “work” presented a host of new challenges for us all. What some believed might be an inconvenience for a few weeks proved to be the challenge of a lifetime.
We wondered how to best stay safe and what to do about childcare. Would our jobs and businesses survive, and how were we going to pay for food and housing? As the weeks turned into months, our concerns only grew. Were our children falling behind in school; were those of us who survived COVID-19 going to have lifelong illness? How was anyone, especially children and older adults, going to deal with long-term isolation?
The more we learned about infection rates, hospitalizations, and deaths, the more something else became clear. This pandemic – which was taking a huge human and economic toll – was doing so disproportionately in communities of color. The last 12 months with COVID-19 has pushed us in many ways, broken us in some, and highlighted the appalling lack of equity in our society.
For Virginia’s children, their race, zip code and family income determine their life expectancy and ability to succeed. Lest we are tempted to think that this is hyperbole, the data from our KIDS COUNT Data Center confirms the impact of COVID-19 on families of color.
The stress of trying to pay bills, eat, maintain housing and balance child care has also led to an increase in depression and anxiety in adults. These familial stressors are also felt by children and can impact their development, introducing new levels of trauma and instability.
This year has been hard in so many ways. We must acknowledge the generosity, kindness of bravery that were on display daily in ways big and small. Individuals, families, and communities proved to be creative, adaptable, and resilient. I certainly saw all of these qualities in the staff and work at Voices and it was to the benefit of Virginia’s children and their families.
Because of your support, Voices was able to continue our work in championing policies and safety net programs to protect our children. More than $257 million was allocated in state and federal funds for new initiatives for children and families. Our legislative victories include:
Yes, this past year was hard, and we are not out of the woods yet. But we do have reason to hope, and we at Voices will continue to advocate for programs, policies and systemic changes that promote health, wellbeing, and equity for all of Virginia’s children and their families.
Amy Strite, CEO of Voices for Virginia’s Children
*This blog was updated on April 28th, 2021.*Read More Blog Posts