As the nation responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers, community residents, and leaders from all sectors are being called upon to deal with multiple needs in their communities. In addition to the health consequences of the pandemic, the economic impacts have exacerbated and further exposed gaps in meeting basic needs, including housing, transportation, and education—all of which impact overall health and well-being. Children are among those at greatest risk from gaps that have existed for generations but are deepened by the pandemic.
For example, at the end of April, two in five households of mothers with children 12 and younger were food insecure. The economic, racial, and health disparities that existed at baseline in our health and social service systems for children are intensified as both systems are stretched to their capacity.
The road to recovery for our nation’s health system is through investing in US families and strengthening our communities. It will require the transformation of our health care and social service systems. This transformation should include the advancement of value-based payment and delivery models that address underlying social factors impacting the health of children and families.
Responding to the immediate needs exacerbated by COVID-19 and addressing the social factors impacting the health of children on a national scale will require vision, sustained commitment, investment, and creativity from community-based partners, policymakers, providers, payers, and businesses.