This short thought-piece was commissioned by ECFG in September 2020 to help members navigate the uncertainty around how COVID would impact children in the longer-term. The paper includes a desk review of the impacts of previous pandemics and economic crises on children; an overview of likely impacts for children of the COVID crisis, including projections by age cohort; four potential scenarios and related planning questions; recommendations for funding, advocacy, and research; and a bibliography of key resources and reports.
There is a genuine prospect that the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis will permanently alter the lives of today’s children. Available data and projections present a grim picture with rising household unemployment and poverty negatively impacting children’s wellbeing. Against this backdrop, the protection of children and their families and/or caregivers is vital. But how do we determine how to strategically allocate our limited resources to this end when the only constant is uncertainty? Scenario planning is an approach to thinking about the future by focusing on external driving forces on which we have little or no control. In building scenarios of what the future might look like, we begin with existing data, evidence, and projections to establish prudent assumptions about our current situation:
• The crisis is affecting the whole socio-ecological system of the child and is exacerbating existing inequality and vulnerabilities.
• Children are out of school, losing access to a protective measure against many of the existing risks and decreasing their chances of a better future.
• The most vulnerable children are affected the most, with a gender divide making girls face unique risks.
• Social protection measures are offering immediate relief but might not be sustainable in the long run.
• There is a growing mismatch between an increased need for non-profit services and their resources and existing capacities to meet this need.
These prudent assumptions are accompanied by a number of unknowns that are impacting our work: the length and severity of the pandemic and of the economic crisis, as well as government capacity to respond and civil society capacity to influence such a response. It is also uncertain what will happen to international cooperation in this context. Most importantly, there are too many unknowns on the long-term impact on children's lives and on the invisible crises they might be facing. Read the Executive Summary for a break down of the different scenarios presented in the report.