A new study suggests the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated — and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans.
The study was published Thursday by the medical journal Pediatrics.
It found that more than 120,000 U.S. children lost a parent or grandparent who was a primary provider of financial support and care. Another 22,000 children experienced the death of a secondary caregiver — for example, a grandparent who provided housing but not a child’s other basic needs.
“These findings really highlight those children who have been left most vulnerable by the pandemic, and where additional resources should be directed,” one of the study’s authors, Dr. Alexandra Blenkinsop of Imperial College London, said in a statement.
The new study’s numbers are based on statistical modeling that used fertility rates, death statistics and household composition data to make estimates.
The new study based its calculation on excess deaths, or deaths above what would be considered typical.
Federal statistics are not yet available on how many U.S. children went into foster care last year. Researchers estimate COVID-19 drove a 15% increase in orphaned children.