Ensuring that all neighborhoods have safe and healthy places for children and families to thrive and grow is especially critical to children’s social and emotional development through the disruptions, disconnection, and trauma brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children’s social, emotional, and behavior development doesn’t begin and end with the school day, and the school day in the current virtual setting has proved increasing difficult to foster connection and growth. Gaps or barriers to transitioning between systems and settings – both throughout the day and across a student’s educational experience from birth to career – create opportunity gaps that disproportionately impact foster youth, homeless youth, youth involved in the justice system, low-income youth, and children of color, and that can persist over a lifetime.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made these existing gaps and barriers even more apparent than they already were and has demonstrated how vital holistic support of children’s growth through mentoring, social emotional learning, play-based learning, experiential learning, and creative expression truly is.
Ensuring that no kids fall through the cracks during the pandemic and beyond means supporting and growing programs that provide these holistic, whole-child support for some of our state’s most vulnerable students.