Two years after the first COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in the United States, kids are back in school, more of them have health insurance, and life has begun to look a bit more “normal.” But that doesn’t mean the kids are alright.

Nearly 13 million U.S. children have contracted childhood COVID, more than 241,000 have lost a caregiver. The youngest children in our country remain unvaccinated. And we have only just begun to considerthe long-term effects of childhood COVID.

The pandemic and its economic fallout have had an outsized impact on every aspect of the health and well-being of U.S. children. The numbers below tell only part of that story. But they are a good place to start.

Physical health:

Despite early misconceptions that children don’t get COVID, childhood COVID accounts for 19% of all COVID-19 cases in the United States.

Emotional health:

Our country’s children are in the throes of a full-blown mental health crisis.

Economic Stability:

At the height of the pandemic in 2021, government programs in the American Rescue Plan cut child poverty in the U.S. by 36%.


Black, Hispanic, Indigenous and other children of color in the United States are far more likely to contract childhood COVID, be hospitalized, lose a caregiver to the disease, suffer economic consequences, and endure other pandemic fallout than their white counterparts.

Where we go from here:

Emergency pandemic aid — improved tax credits, increased food benefits, economic impact payments, and other child-centered initiatives — achieved historic levels of well-being for U.S. children. These investments reversed more than a decade of decline in federal spending on children, helping lift nearly 4 million out of poverty and producing the largest year-to-year increase in the share of U.S. federal spending on kids since First Focus on Children began tracking 15 years ago.

We must capitalize on this progress. And propose long-term solutions to these long-term problems.