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Financial relief is on the way for children left orphaned by COVID

Two children wearing masks, with backpacks, ready for school.
Kelly Sikkema
Two kids stand next to each other, ready for school, wearing masks.

In California, an estimated 32,000 children had a parent or guardian die as a result of COVID-19. CalMatters reports that 66 percent of those children are Latino -- many of them with parents deemed essential workers during the pandemic.

These “COVID orphans” are not just likely to face greater mental health issues but are also more at risk of financial hardship, as well - according to the Global Reference Group for Children Affected by COVID-19

In response, the state has allocated $100 million in the 22-23 budget to go towards creating trust funds for low-income children, who have been left orphaned by one or more caregivers, due to COVID - as well as long term foster youth. These funds - called “baby bonds” - can be used for any purpose and would grow every year until the child turns 18.

Eligibility may be tied to Medi-Cal enrollment, say advocates. However, the details will be confirmed later this summer through trailer bills – those are additional bills that make the necessary changes to state law in order to implement the policies outlined in the budget.

Hanisha Harjani is in the KALW Summer Training Program and produces news stories for Crosscurrents