Across the country, people and communities are trying to keep children and youth safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic. We should spare no effort to ensure that children and youth with disabilities and their families remain safely together and connected to the services they need.
Families who need the most help may be reluctant to reach out because of stigma or because they fear that letting agencies know they are struggling might lead to heavy- handed child welfare interventions. The intersections of disability, ableism and systemic racism further contribute to impoverishment, social isolation and trauma, putting families at increased risk of excessive state intervention.
Families are doing their very best to cope on their own, but emerging evidence confirms they are not doing well at all. COVID-19 risks increasing the number of children who come into care because their family is unable to meet their needs. Much can be done to help young people with disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers get through a difficult and frightening time.
Supportive efforts must include actions to address systemic discrimination faced by young families – Indigenous, Black and racialized families in particular – who have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This publication provides guidance on how front-line practitioners, foster families, alternative caregivers, and governments can help create the conditions for hope and love to shine through this difficult moment and into a brighter, more equitable future for all.