Pandemic Impact Children

Child Poverty and Pandemic Effects

In March of 2021, Forbes reported that the poverty rate in the U.S. had been on a slow decline, but the pandemic stalled that progress. Writer William Haseltine said among the hardest hit were children from low-income households, where school closures and the high cost of childcare had forced parents to give up their jobs to care for their kids.

He said that almost one in every five children in the nation lives in poverty, a percentage significantly higher than for adults. Childhood poverty is linked to a higher incidence of accidents, chronic disease, and mental health issues, with effects that can last well into adulthood.

“Children from low-income families face challenges when it comes to homeschooling as they may lack access to a computer, or even stable housing,” Haseltine wrote. “In the U.S. approximately 2.5 percent of students do not live in a stable residence. One in ten students in New York City was homeless or had serious housing instability during the previous school year. While children from higher-income families may be able to continue their education without interruption, children from lower-income families are more likely to struggle with homework and online courses due to their insecure housing circumstances.”[1]

In addition, forecasts from November of 2020 said the worldwide socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic was expected to push 142 million more children into poor households in developed countries by the end of the year. Worldwide, absent mitigation policies, the number of children living in poor families could reach 725 million.

Multiplied Impact

A recent report from UNICEF and Save the Children said the past year has not only seen an increase in children left hungry, isolated, abused and anxious—it has only affected their access to protection and health services while diminishing their mental health.

The study on child poverty and pandemic effects said the number of children living in multidimensional poverty had increased to approximately 1.2 billion because of the pandemic. That included a 15 percent rise in the number of children living in deprivation in low- or middle-income countries—an additional 150 million since the pandemic hit in early 2020.

The report said that social protection, inclusive fiscal policies, social service investments, and employment interventions to support families are critical to lifting people out of poverty. So is expanding access to quality health care and providing the tools and technology needed to continue children’s education remotely.

In March of 2021, World Vision Canada noted that since 1990 the number of children dying worldwide from preventable diseases, such as hunger and disease, had gone down by more than 50 percent. But COVID-19 put those hard-won gains at risk. The agency said its research showed:

  • Thirty million additional children at risk from disease and death from secondary impacts.
  • Eighty-five million children are at risk of violence, particularly girls—including 13 million additional child marriages.
  • Nineteen million people, including 10 million children, are threatened by famine because of conflicts, economic impacts, and climate-related natural disasters.

Discover how you can play a vital role in freeing children from poverty. Visit the GFA World website at and embark on a journey of making a difference. When you sponsor a child in South Asia or Africa, you’re giving them a chance at a better future. Whether you prefer a child who shares your birthday or have specific preferences for age or gender, your decision to sponsor holds the power to transform the life of an impoverished child.

Learn more about the pandemic impact on children

[1] Haseltine, William. “Covid-19 Has Exacerbated Child Poverty, Forcing A Long Overdue Policy Focus.” Forbes. March 27, 2021.