Summary: This policy brief uses 2020 and 2021 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) data to describe the financial, employment, and child care–related stressors the pandemic placed on families with young children. In addition, we examine changes in parental involvement behaviors that may have long-term effects on children’s development and health, and we also look at the disproportionate impacts experienced by families of color.
Findings: Families in California with children ages 0–5 experienced a range of financial stressors during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, struggling to pay for housing, basic necessities, and child care – when they could find child care. Latinx and Black parents experienced more COVID-related financial stressors than other racial and ethnic groups. Also, from 2019 to 2021, which includes the pandemic years, daily reading to young children by a parent or family member showed a significant downward trend. Latinx and Black parents, as well as parents in the lowest and highest income categories, had the greatest decreases in daily reading.