WASHINGTON, D.C. — Inside Roberta’s House in Baltimore, there are colorful drawings made by kids who have suffered the loss of a parent or caregiver.
“The kids amazingly say things, you know — ‘I saw mommy in heaven,’ or ‘I saw mommy in a rainbow’ or ‘where is mommy now,’” said Annette March-Grier, founder of Roberta’s House.
The nonprofit is helping kids who lost a parent or both parents for various reasons, including during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Global Reference Group on Children affected by COVID-19, these estimates show more than 229,000 children have lost one or both parents since the pandemic started.
Many of them live in Florida, Texas and California. This latest research also shows Black and brown families have disproportionately experienced the impact of these losses.
“How are we there for the most vulnerable in our community? And that’s about as vulnerable as a young person can be,” said Assistant Secretary January Contreras at the Administration for Children and Families.
This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a list of services available for these families. Under HHS, Administration for Children and Families is coordinating these resources with other agencies and nonprofits.
“How do we make it as easy as possible that they know where they can find assistance to pay a utility bill or how do they apply for Social Security?” she said.
Contreras said many of these federal programs have been around for some time, but families may not have needed them before.
“It’s not going to solve everyone’s problems at such a traumatic event in someone’s life. But we do want people to know, they’re not alone,” said Contreras.
There’s also support for extended families. This includes programs that help grandparents and caregivers access counseling and legal services.
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