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Survey Measures Pandemic Impacts On Young Parents

An infant with a toy.
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/gerlos

Massachusetts youth were twice as likely as adults to lose employment during the COVID-19 pandemic, while young parents in particular faced a "confluence of pressures" more severe than other age groups, according to new state survey data.

Amid more than a year of economic devastation, parents under the age of 25 struggled more than older parent groups to afford basic child care needs, faced higher rates of domestic violence, and experienced more housing instability than youth who did not have children of their own, Department of Public Health Office of Statistics & Evaluation Acting Director Sanouri Ursprung said at a state Public Health Council meeting Wednesday.

The latest analysis of data from the COVID-19 Community Impact Survey DPH ran between September and November 2020 found parents age 25 and younger were more than a third more likely than parents between the ages of 35 to 44 to be unable to meet needs such as diapers and baby food.

One in two young parents also lost jobs, absorbed reduced hours or took leave during the pandemic, a higher rate than older adult workers.

About 38% of those who lost their jobs and 50% who scaled back the time they worked cited child care needs as a reason.

Half of young parents said they were worried about losing their housing in the next few weeks, a rate six times as high as other youth who did not have children of their own.

"Young parents in general are important to understand because they are both young people themselves at a critical period in their own development, but they're also the caregivers of infants and young children at a critical period of their own development," Ursprung told the council. "The needs of young parents have an intergenerational impact, and our data show despite the social supports available during the pandemic such as housing and food assistance, young parents were still not always able to access the resources they needed."

DPH's survey involved 33,000 adults, 3,000 youth and 148 young parents.

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