The Impact of Covid-19 on babies and young children in Jersey
The aim of the Best Start Partnership is to give every child in Jersey the best start in life.
While the pandemic has been challenging for everyone the Partnership have been keen to explore its impact on Jersey’s youngest citizens.
In July 2020 the Partnership produced a briefing paper ‘42 Days and counting: Lockdown babies & young children’. The paper reviewed the impact of pregnancy in a pandemic, babies born into an uncertain world and starting life in a crisis, the impact and key issues for parents-to-be, babies, young children and their families. It is available at https://beststart.je/news/
Subsequently the Partnership undertook an online survey to connect with parents to further understand their experience. Please click here to see the full report
While there were positives in terms of more family time and quality time with children. There were lots of concerns:
Social: Parents missed meeting friends and family and the face-to-face contact with healthcare professionals. They reported feeling isolated and alone. The lack of social interactions for children with their peers was a concern due to the closure of schools and nurseries.
Emotional: Many parents reported feeling under immense pressure emotionally, this was for a variety of reasons and is the main interlinking thread. They reported being stressed and anxious, vulnerable, depressed and experiencing mental health issues. One reported being at ‘breaking point’.
Work: Some workplaces were very flexible with working and home working however, some parents experienced re-deployment, losing jobs or employers being very rigid in how they wanted work completed. This is linked with financial concerns for some.
Facilities / services: A large proportion of responses indicated how negatively they and their families were affected by playgroups, baby groups, indoor play, and parks being closed. The closure of nurseries and schools had a major impact which links this theme with all of the other themes as childcare became the sole responsibility of the parents, many had more than one child to care for and educate and many also had work to complete. This had impacts for work and both socially and emotionally for all. Many respondents reported a negative impact of sports facilities and gyms being closed. Due to the lockdown and the impact on travel many also reported the lack of holidays and the negative impact of this. On-line availability for health / medical care / appointments and shopping was a positive impact.
Children’s views: When children were told to stay at home many were scared, confused and not happy, being sad that everything was closed, missing their friends and grandparents. However, some were happy because ‘I wanted to be with mummy’. One described the virus as ‘a bad superbug’.
So what? Key messages:
- Playing with friends and space to play are important to children
- While parents missed face-to-face contact with services, online connectivity was supportive.
- Positive activities for children and regular contact is appreciated by families
- It was positive to find professionals still smiling
So, KEEP SMILING