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Role of faith communities in preventing & addressing safeguarding risks to children who have lost parents/caregivers to COVID-19

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About this talk

Recent findings show the alarming and growing number of children who have lost a parent or caregiver due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 30, 2021, every 6 seconds a child loses a parent or caregiver to COVID-19, with an estimated 1½ million children worldwide who have lost one or both parents to COVID-19 and upwards of 2.3 million children who have lost a primary or secondary caregiver (i.e., grandparent residing with child) to COVID-19. Parental loss in early childhood has been linked to increased risks for family separation and placement in residential care or alternative care, bereavement and impacts on lifelong mental health, lost household income, poor nutritional status and abuse & neglect. Parental/caregiver loss compounds existing increased risks to children during this time of crisis. Faith communities are uniquely positioned to help prevent and mitigate these risks to children with a COVID-19 associated loss of a parent or caregiver. Specifically, faith traditions, communities and faith-based organizations can help safeguard children by preparing and ensuring that children receive family-based services with proper case management and avoid institutionalization, as well as protect children through proper case management, preventing and addressing abuse and violence, supporting and training caregivers and other key safeguarding practices. During this live panel, we will explore how faith traditions and local faith communities might address the COVID-19 orphanhood crisis and best prepare to intervene rapidly when families are impacted by COVID-19 to safeguard children. Panelists will address such questions as: What are the risks to children who have lost a parent/caregiver to COVID-19? Who should take the lead in safeguarding children and what activities/efforts should be prioritized? What are specific ways that a faith community might ensure these children grow up in family-based care, living with a surviving extended family member or a foster/adoptive family, rather than entering institutional care? What have we learned from previous situations/pandemics, such as the HIV epidemic, and how we might avoid certain failures/threats to children from happening again?

If you want to see the level and rate of orphanhood and caregiver loss from COVID-19 in any given country, go here: Updated weekly.

Philip Goldman

A passionate advocate for children, Philip has decades of experience in designing, negotiating and implementing comprehensive human development programs for the World Bank, UNICEF and global foundations.

Christina Tobias-Nahi

Christina holds a post-graduate certificate in Community-Based Development and an M.A. in International Relations from Boston University-Paris, where she spent two years working in Paris for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She obtained her Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and worked at Harvard for nearly a decade.

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