First 5 Lake COVID-19 2021 Impact Report Reveals Local Family Struggles, Power of Protective Factors – The Bloom


How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected families with young children in Lake County?That’s the question the First 5 Lake Commission tried to answer when it released a lengthy online survey in June. As they sifted through the 269 individual responses to the survey, they not only understood the hardships faced by families in Lake County, but they also discovered many unsung heroes in the community who stepped up and made a difference. for many. The results of the investigation were summarized in the agency’s recently released COVID-19 2021 impact report, which is now published in full on its website (

First 5 Lake staff worked with evaluation consultants from Social Entrepreneurs, Inc. (SEI) to create and launch the comprehensive online survey. The survey link was then shared with the community through targeted emails to families with young children participating in the Imagination Library program, as well as through social media posts. Families who completed the survey were invited to participate in a drawing for a Wal-Mart gift card or Golden Poppy Annual Pass to California State Parks.

The survey asked participating Lake County parents of young children (birth to 5 years old) on a list of common needs and whether their families had struggled to meet those needs during the last year of the year. pandemic. Families were then asked to indicate if the need or barrier was a big problem or a small problem and if their need was met. Respondents who indicated that their needs were met were asked to provide information on how they met their needs, whether it was their own resilience, local nonprofits or government agencies, or their own. social connections with family and friends who provided the necessary support. It was important for the First 5 Lake Commission not only to hear and understand the challenges families faced, but also to find out which systems and supports in the community were having a positive impact. First 5 Lake’s strategic plan is built around the Strengthening Families © protective factors framework, and the Commission continually seeks to learn more about how protective factors are present and effective within the community, ensuring the child safety and family strength. With this in mind, survey responses were categorized according to protective factors which include parental resilience, concrete support when needed, social ties, knowledge of child development, and socio-emotional competence. children.

Areas of greatest struggle

The eleven areas of need included in the survey were child care, medical care for children, employment, groceries / food (including infant formula), housing, internet access , personal hygiene items (including diapers), rent / mortgage, transportation and utilities. Analysis of survey data found that the area where the greatest number of families expressed difficulty in the last year of the pandemic was paying for utilities (106 out of 269), and 44% of these families noted that this was a big problem for them. This is followed by families who report having difficulty finding a job (105), families who report having difficulty meeting childcare or daycare needs (98) and families who report having difficulty paying their expenses. rent or mortgage (95).

Unmet needs

The needs that were most often unmet in the last year of the pandemic, according to survey respondents, were employment (61%) and child care (51%). Other frequently unmet needs included attendance of children for medical appointments (53% of those with this need, say it was not met) and problems accessing the Internet (44% of those with this need). respondents with this need could not solve it). “We pass by. We had to pay rent and can’t pay our utilities», Shared a respondent to the survey. Another replied: “Our daycare has closed. We had to find more expensive private daycares. “Yet another noted,”We may have had enough to feed our family, but we still struggle to find food.. “One of the most desperate situations described by survey respondents was that of a parent struggling to find child care for her children so she could see a doctor. COVID restrictions at the time did not allow anyone to accompany a patient to her appointments, so this parent had to continue to cancel and reschedule her medical appointments when child care was not available. She described experiencing depression nervous as a result.

Community heroes emerge

When I was little and saw scary things on the news, my mom would say to me, “Look for help. You will always find people who help you. ‘ This quote from Fred Rogers, which he shared about Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood many years ago, is one that many parents have shared with their children. It turns out that this is also great advice for adults. When asked where they found help for specific struggles during the pandemic, 85 parents (by far the most) said it was their social connections with their friends and family that brought them on. the most helped. Friends and family have come together to help with financial support, child care, resource sharing and many other ways to help parents of Lake County’s youngest children throughout the journey. pandemic, and continue to do so. The second highest number of respondents (54) reported relying on their own resilience and persistence to overcome obstacles. Comments included,

  • I sold our goods and worked in duplicate. “
  • My husband put in a lot of overtime to make sure we could pay our mortgage. “
  • My husband stopped working to stay home with our child. “
  • We used our own savings and relied on credit cards a lot more than we normally would. “
  • My partner was able to work a ton of side jobs in a neighborhood.
  • “I just had to go back to work sooner than I wanted after having a baby (10 weeks).”
  • We were able to establish reasonable payment plans with our utility companies and make additional payments as finances permitted.. “

For those who described finding concrete support when needed through community resources, the most frequently mentioned local heroes were: Lake County Department of Social Services, E-Center WIC, Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), Redwood Empire Food Bank, North Coast Opportunities, Lake County Tribal Health Consortium and local and regional tribes including Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians.

Crystal Markytan, Director of the Lake County Social Services Department and Commissioner of the First 5 Lakes, notes “I believe this data is vital for understanding how our community can best support future generations by focusing on protective factors and how a community can come together to meet the needs of families, enabling our children to develop most effectively. possible.First 5 Lake Executive Director Carla Ritz agreed to say: “The results of this investigation clearly describe the very real struggles of many Lake County families with young children over the past year and demonstrate the power of protective factors in alleviating the stress and challenges of the pandemic. As we recover from this difficult season, I hope that funding for perinatal and early childhood mental health, accessible child care and other family supports will be prioritized as significant investments in the health care system. future of our county. “

Parents of children under the age of five can find information about community resources that may benefit their families at and can get a personalized list of programs and services they may be eligible for at For more information on these and other First 5 Lake initiatives, email [email protected], call 707-263-6169 or visit

Since its inception in 2000, First 5 Lake has invested in programs, services and systems change efforts designed to help thousands of Lake County children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school and in life. The current commissioners of the first 5 lakes are: Tina Scott (chair), Carly Sherman (vice-chair), Carol Huchingson, Brock Falkenberg, Crystal Markytan, Allison Panella, Fawn Rave, Justin Gaddy and Tarin Benson.

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