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The Big Ideas
for Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Think Kids is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that envisions a day when all of West Virginia's kids are safe, healthy, and aspire to do great things

Kids and COVID-19

Currently, children ages 0-19 make up 4% of West Virginia's COVID-19 cases and 7% of those who are tested for the disease. But the threat that the coronavirus poses to children goes well beyond contracting the virus. With our state's school systems closed until at least April 30, 2020, and with stringent social distancing measures in place, it's challenging for those who care for our children-- those who feed them, teach them, provide medical care for them, counsel them, or watch over them if they are potentially in at-risk situations-- to remain in contact with them and provide needed services. As we slowly begin to transition back to physically re-engaging with one another in some capacity until a vaccine is available, it's important that we state up-to-date with relevant news from trusted sources. As advocates, we can help foster evidence-based and factual decision-making from public authorities in our state. Some are some suggested sites: 
Stop. Collaborate. Listen. 
As the pandemic continues to unfold in changing ways, we hope we can all adapt and respond to the needs of children together. 
Join us
this Thursday at 9am for our bimonthly meeting to share updates on how the pandemic is affecting West Virginia's kids. Guests include: 
  • WVCHIP Executive Director, Jean Kranz
  • Director of the Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center, Dr. Kathy Wibberly 
  • Director of School-Based Health for Cabin Creek Health Systems, Mary Grandon
  • President of the SHIELD Task Force and Senior Attorney for the Zero Abuse Project, Robert Peters
You'll have a chance to ask questions of guests, share updates about your programs / services, / events, and disseminate resources. If you have materials to upload to the cloud drive, please let us know. There's a link below to the agenda and information from our last meeting. 

Project Updates

The coronavirus has left nothing untouched, including our current projects.  Maybe you're like us-- wondering how long this period of uncertainty will last. Focusing on work is difficult; focusing on work outside the scope of the pandemic is nearly impossible. Do we push the pause button on our projects? Or do adapt our programming and projects to include the needs posed by the pandemic?

At Think Kids, we've chosen the latter. As our work focuses on ensuring all children have healthy, safe childhoods, we see this as a natural response. The pandemic is shining an important light on where our safety net and systems of care are at their weakest.  Until a vaccine is available, we'll continue to share meaningful data and policy recommendations that address these holes in our safety net. More on how we've incorporated these efforts into our programming in the links below: 

Addressing the Needs of Children Affected by the Drug Crisis
The Health and Hunger Project 
What We're Reading
Last week, the CDC published preliminary data on children and COVID-19 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Their COVID-19 Response Team analyzed preliminary data on 149,760 COVID-19 cases occurring from Feb. 12 to April 2 and reported from all 50 states and including DC, NYC and the four U.S. territories. Of the confirmed 149,082 COVID cases for which age was known, 2,572 (1.7%) were among children under 18 years old. Information on symptoms, underlying conditions and hospitalization status was provided for just 9.4%, 13% and 33% of the children with COVID-19. More complete data on hospitalization, symptoms and conditions will be important to track the impact of COVID-19 on children. Among pediatric patients, children under age 1 year and children with underlying health conditions were at highest risk of serious illness resulting in hospitalization. 

Read the article: Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020

Closing schools during the time of a pandemic successfully minimizes the spread of infection in schoolchildren, but at what cost to our health care system?  Policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research. 
The percentage of infants and toddlers without health insurance is growing. The overall rate of uninsured children under the age of 3 increased significantly for the first time in several years, growing from 3.5% in 2016 to 4.1% in 2018. This trend mirrors the national increase in the uninsured rate for all children under 19, as well as children under 6. Both groups showed statistically significant increases during the same two-year period.

Considering that this demographic of infants and toddlers is the most impacted by both the drug epidemic and COVID-19, ensuring they have health insurance is critical. 

Read the brief: Rate of Uninsured Infants and Toddlers on the Rise
Child abuse in West Virginia may be going unreported. Advocates for abused children have expressed concern that as people continue to follow the stay-at-home order in our state, child abuse may increase and go unreported. West Virginia already has the higher rate of children in state custody in the nation, WVDHHR officials have reported. In March, about 7,200 were in state custody.

Read the article: Advocates: child abuse in W.Va. may be going unreported

"Every time 6-year-old Aaron Coleman sees a computer, he wants to touch it. He wants to carry it around. Aaron just doesn't want to sit still in front of it." We were moved by this piece from KCET in Southern California about the challenges of adapting special education to distance learning. In 2018, there were over 47,183 students between the ages 3-21 with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in West Virginia – about 17.8% of all public school students. How are our students with special educational needs adapting? We hope to dig deeper into this issue as the months progress. 

Read the article: A 'Sobering Reality' for Special Needs Kids in an Era of Distance Learning

See our state snapshot at the National Center for Learning Disabilities
Federal guidance: Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak 

"Thanks for reading The Big Ideas, Think Kids' newsletter. If you have any article ideas, research to highlight, events to share, etc., please let us know." - Kelli Caseman, Executive Director 
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