2020 COVID-19 Urban Research-to-Action Award: From the Pediatric Frontlines: Basic Needs, Access to COVID19 Supports & Equity Among Families with Young Children in the Boston Area

PI: Megan Sandel, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, BU School of Medicine (BUSM), Boston Medical Center (BMC), and Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Health, BU School of Public Health (SPH)
Co-PI: Deborah A. Frank, MD, Professor in Child Health and Well-Being, Department of Pediatrics, BUSM, BMC, and Assistant Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, SPH

Young children are in a sensitive period of body and brain development and may be susceptible to significant changes brought about by COVID-19, including the economic stability of their families, food insecurity, housing security, and access to COVID-19 support. Drawing on existing survey data that Children’s HealthWatch, a research and policy network operating in five states and based at Boston Medical Center (BMC), has collected from adults and their young children at pediatric doctors’ visits to BMC, Sandel and Frank will develop a follow-up survey to be given to previously interviewed families regarding COVID-19 impacts. Developed with the assistance of the Boston University School of Public Health’s Biostatistics and Epidemiology Data Analytics Center (BEDAC), the pre and post survey data will allow the researchers to examine if food insecurity, economic hardships, and poor child and parent health have increased since the COVID-19 crisis. They will also determine if such impacts have been disproportionately experienced by immigrant families and families of color. Furthermore, the study will examine if policy changes related to COVID-19—including access to support for basic needs such as food, housing, and income—are associated with child and adult health and well-being and whether there are differences by race, ethnicity, or maternal country of origin.


Mazure, M., Bruce, C., Sheward., R., Cook, J., Poblacion, A., …. & Sandel, M. (2020) “A First Look at Preliminary Children’s HealthWatch COVID-19 Survey Data: High Levels of Household Food Insecurity Persist among Families in Boston, Massachusetts during the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Children’s Health Watch. Policy Brief.

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