In September of 2021, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) conducted a webinar dedicated to the traumatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic concerning children and young people. The webinar “Where Do We Go from Here? A Call to Action” focuses on the specific strategies and recommendations to improve the state of children, young adults, and social workers who support them. It includes ideas suggested by four speakers within their specific areas of expertise: the Child Welfare System and transition-age youth, school, youth at risk, and policy.
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McCullough started the discussion by addressing the ways to support the Child Welfare System and the youth transitioning out of it. The researcher highlights that COVID-19 has caused new traumas and challenges for children and triggered the existing ones, including lack of food, unavailable education, and homelessness (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2021). He notes that many useful social programs already exist. What is necessary is to support them, find the ways to improve or fix them if needed, and make sure they do not close. McCullough points out that young people entering adulthood also need guidance. It can be provided in available post-secondary education programs, vocational readiness, and independent living skills training.
Wong continued the discussion by covering the topic of schools. In her opinion, one of the major pandemic-related problems society faces is the increased inequality in education and decreased motivation to study (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2021). Moreover, school is both a source of potential traumas and support for children. An open conversation between officials, educators, parents, and children is necessary to avoid the former and provide the latter. Another suggested solution is the further promotion and implementation of teachers’ trauma-informed instruction.
Kinnish addressed the problems faced by vulnerable youth, which also amplified with the pandemic’s beginning. The researcher points out that some vital social programs and organizations supporting at-risk children and young people were closed due to insufficient financial support (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2021). Kinnish positively evaluates the contribution of technologies in dealing with at-risk youth’s problems, as they give vulnerable people a safe platform for connection and improve maltreatment detection. She believes equal access to technologies and collaboration are keys to solving the issues caused by the pandemic.
Borbon shared some achievements and issues in the policies concerning child support in the pandemic period. The speaker notes that the government has implemented many initiatives responding to the pandemic impact (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, 2021). They include legislative and financial support of the projects concerning children’s mental issues, suicide prevention, substance abuse, maltreatment, educational problems, and poverty. Moreover, many events and hearings have been held to share suggestions for solving these problems, but not all of them were successful. For improving its response to the challenges, the government needs brief, specific, thoughtful recommendations from specialists or people with relevant experience.
In conclusion, all the speakers agree that the pandemic has increased the challenges that children and vulnerable families face. The most critical ones are child maltreatment, inequality in education, and overall stress caused by tragedies and uncertainty related to COVID-19. However, the speakers seem to be quite optimistic about the general trends in children’s social support as many programs and initiatives still function effectively and just need extra help from volunteers and governments. They believe what is necessary now is the communication and collaboration of all parties affected, including children.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). (2021). Where do we go from here? A call to action in response to the impact of COVID-19 [Video]. YouTube. Web.
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