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March 3, 2022

Pressley, Watson Coleman Statement on Biden Administration Support for Children Who Lost Caregivers to COVID-19

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) issued the following statement regarding the Biden Administration’s decision to include support for bereaved children in its updated National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan

“We applaud the Biden Administration for prioritizing support for bereaved children in its national COVID-19 strategy. The unprecedented trauma, hurt and grief caused by the pandemic has exacerbated the mental health crisis and has particularly impacted children who have lost a parent or caregiver.

“Last year, the COVID Collaborative released a harrowing report which found that approximately 167,000 children lost a parent or in-home caregiver to COVID-19, 70 percent of those children were under the age of 13 and 13,000 lost their only caregiver. Due to the disparate impact of this pandemic on Black and brown communities, children of color were nearly four times as likely to lose a loved one. Tragically, many of these children have not received the support they need. In December, we led an effort to call on President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Becerra to take action to better identify bereaved children and provide the necessary federal aid to support them and their families.  

“We thank the President and Secretary Becerra for heeding our calls and responding to this crisis with the urgency that it deserves. In its new National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, the Administration promised to provide financial support to bereaved families and further develop its bereavement response for children. We look forward to working with the Administration in taking further steps to better meet the financial and mental health needs of children and families who have suffered the traumatic deaths of loved ones.”

Throughout her career, Congresswoman Pressley has been a tireless advocate for trauma-conscious policymaking.  In June 2021, Rep. Pressley reintroduced the STRONG Support for Children Act, her landmark legislation that takes a holistic and community-based approach to addressing the growing crisis of childhood trauma. 

In October 2021, Rep. Pressley, along with Reps. Dina Titus (NV-01), David McKinley (WV-01) and Peter Meijer (MI-03), unveiled the Post-Disaster Mental Health Response Act, legislation to expand mental health supports for survivors of natural disasters and terrorist attacks that do not receive a “Major Disaster” declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

In March 2021, Rep. Pressley sent a letter to President Biden calling on him to address the nation’s growing trauma crisis and laying out a series of steps the administration should take to confront the far-reaching hurt plaguing our communities and our nation.  In April, she published an op-ed where she reflected on the collective pain experienced by communities in her district over the past year. 

In July 2019, Rep. Pressley worked with Chairman Cummings to convene the first-ever Congressional hearings on childhood trauma.  Watch Congresswoman Pressley’s full question line and follow-up questions here and here

As a Boston City Councilor, she convened the Council’s first-ever listening-only session to hear directly from those impacted by the trauma of community gun violence.