Kids and Covid Conversation Series

This month, we mark the second anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. First Focus on Children invites you to reflect on this moment and the impact the pandemic has had on children over the past two years with a comprehensive series of conversations throughout the months of March and April 2022.

Beginning on March 16th, First Focus on Children will be joined by experts, advocates, and policy leaders to discuss all of the ways this crisis has impacted the lives of children — from education and juvenile justice to mental health and housing to child poverty, nutrition, and global health — and we welcome you to join us for these live, interactive conversations.

Schedule of Events

We will update this page with speaker and live stream information as it is finalized.

3/16 Wed. 3pm ET | Mental Health

During this conversation, we discuss the mental health crisis among our nation’s youth and will hear from experts and mental health advocates on how we can tackle the issue — and take a deeper dive into the importance of robust mental health services available to all children and adolescents.

In addition, we will hear from U.S. Senator Tina Smith, a Champion for Children and a longtime advocate for youth mental health who has introduced legislation to tackle this problem specifically in schools. Our panelists include:

  • Trace Terrell (YouthLine)
  • Miriam Calderón (Zero To Three)
  • Dr. Sharon Hoover, PhD. (University of Maryland School of Medicine)
  • Scott Hutchins (Michigan Department of Education)

3/22 Tues. 2pm ET | Child and Youth Homelessness

During this conversation, we will hear from an expert panel about the experience of homeless and housing insecure children and youth over the past two years and learn about the policies and practices needed to reform federal homelessness assistance, prevent evictions, and better target resources to meet the unique developmental needs of children and youth.

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, child and youth homelessness in the United States was all too common —the latest national data we have shows that an estimated 1-in-41 school-age children are homeless, while millions more children and youth remain at-risk of eviction and homelessness. The pandemic and its economic fallout heightened the barriers and challenges faced by homeless children and youth, who continue to suffer negative health and educational repercussions from school closures, increased financial hardship, and household upheaval caused by COVID-19. Our panelists include:

  • Barbara Duffield (SchoolHouse Connection)
  • Katrina Bostick (Family Promise of the Coastal Empire)

3/30 Wed. 3pm ET | Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice

The pandemic exposed and exacerbated some of the inequities, burdens, and lack of family supports that exist in both the child welfare and youth justice systems. During the past two years, children, youth, their families, and their allies made some amazing strides towards shifting how these systems operate. Join a panel of advocates as we review some of the innovations, challenges, and successes that occurred in the child welfare and youth justice systems during the Covid-19 pandemic. Hear how we can take steps to meet the needs of children and youth in these systems.

An expert panel for this conversation will include Allison Green (National Association of Counsel for Children), James Dold (Human Rights for Kids), Jennifer Rodriguez (Youth Law Center), Joshua Rovner (The Sentencing Project), Shereen White (Children’s Rights), and Tony Parsons (Youth Villages) — moderated by First Focus on Children’s Aubrey Edwards-Luce.

4/6 Wed. 3pm ET | Mixed Status Families

During this conversation, we will discuss the impact of the pandemic on children in immigrant families. During the briefing, we will hear from experts and parent advocates on how federal policies have left children in immigrant families behind, and how to make sure that all children have the opportunity to grow and thrive.

Every child should have what they need to grow up healthy and safe. However, even before the pandemic, one in four children in America faced barriers to basic services and support because of their immigration status or that of their family members. Policies like the Trump Administration’s public charge rule led families to avoid critical health care, nutrition, and housing assistance, even when they or their children were eligible for those benefits. As a result, children in immigrant families have less health coverage, more food instability, and higher rates of poverty. The pandemic only exacerbated these harms, especially because immigrant families were excluded from many COVID relief efforts even while millions were part of the essential workforce.

Our panelists include:

  • Gabriella Barbosa, The Children’s Partnership
  • Evelyn Ramos, United Parent Leaders Action Network
  • Muleba Sumbwe, UndocuBlack Network

4/12 Tues. 3pm ET | Physical Health and Vaccinations

During this conversation, we will discuss the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our children’s health and well-being with
Dr. Theresa Chapple, maternal and child health epidemiologist. Attendees will hear what children have experienced during the pandemic, impacts on their physical health, their opportunities for vaccines, the widening disparities the pandemic has caused, and what steps can be taken to measure, address, and mitigate these impacts.

Opening remarks will be made by Representative Kim Schrier (D-WA), the only pediatrician currently serving in Congress.

4/20 Wed. 2pm | Economic Impacts (Taxes + Child Poverty + Child Care)

During this conversation, we will discuss the experiences of children and families over the past two years, the demonstrated impact of much-needed and long-overdue investments in kids, and what further Congressional actions can be taken to help families deal with pandemic-related spikes in costs.

Longtime Champion for Children, Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania will provide opening remarks.

Speakers for this panel will include:

  • Anna Johnson, John Burton Advocates for Youth
  • Emmerald Evans, John Burton Advocates for Youth
  • Julie Vogtman, National Women’s Law Center
  • Patrick Cooney, Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan
  • Samiul Jubaed, Detroit Partnership for Economic Mobility / Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan

4/21 Thurs. 12:30pm ET| Global Impacts

During this conversation, we will discuss the global health and secondary pandemic impacts to children worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized our global interconnectedness. Now, we must come together to provide supports for children who are experiencing COVID-19-induced hardship around the world.

Our group of expert panelists will share what unique challenges kids are facing around the world, provide an update on the child COVID response and outline what an international response effort that prioritizes the needs of kids looks like. 

Speakers for this panel will include:

  • Philip Goldman, Maestral International
  • Susan Hillis, Center for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Jennifer Rigg, Global Campaign for Education
  • Chrissy Hart, Together for Girls

4/27 Wed. 3pm ET | Education and Nutrition

During this conversation, we will discuss the impacts of the pandemic on education and school nutrition programs. For millions of children, schools serve as a lifeline – not just for education, but for access to food, health, and other services. When the pandemic struck, schools had to adapt to reach students and their families. Join us for this conversation as we talk about what went right, what went wrong, and how we can further support schools as we recover from the pandemic. We will hear special remarks from USDA Deputy Under Secretary Stacy Dean, who oversees the nutrition assistance programs that serve millions – like SNAP and the National School Lunch Program.

Our panelists include:

  • Dr. Katie Wilson, Executive Director, Urban School Food Alliance
  • Robert Boyd, President and CEO, School Based Health Alliance
  • José Muñoz, Director, Coalition of Community Schools
  • Olivia Gomez, Director of Health and Nutrition Policy, First Focus on Children
  • Conor Sasner, Director of Education and Child Policy Research, First Focus on Children