By: Shannon Jones, Nick Lashutka and Lisa A. Gray Access article
As parents across Ohio know well, the COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching negative impacts on the health and well-being of children and their families. Increased isolation, economic instability, and gaps in in-person education have had detrimental effects on early childhood and school-age mental and behavioral health.
The full extent of the pandemic’s impact will take time to discern. However, it is clear that our youngest Ohioans and their families have been and are in crisis. Nearly seven in 10 Ohio parents with children under age 5 said they are worried about the mental or emotional health of their children. Only two out of five Ohio children were ready for kindergarten during the 2020-21 school year.
These are just two of the many research-based examples illustrating the dire situation facing Ohio families. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association, the nation’s pediatricians and children’s hospitals have collectively issued a mental and behavioral healthcare emergency for children across the country.
We’re at a critical juncture as these challenges present an opportunity, and an obligation, for our state to recover and rebuild with our most precious resource – our children – at the forefront.
As we approach the November elections, our candidates for governor have the chance to establish a path forward to both prevent and mitigate the impacts of this crisis.