The effects of school and childcare participation during the COVID‑19 pandemic on young children and their parents: the TARGet Kids! Study of Children and Families
Children have been underrepresented in COVID‑19 research due to the low risk of becoming severely ill from the SARS-CoV-2 infection. However, the effects of COVID‑19 public health measures such as school and childcare closures on Canadian children are potentially more severe and far-reaching than the infection itself. Research is needed to understand and monitor the ongoing impact of school participation and childcare attendance on multiple domains of health and well-being of children and their parents. We propose to use the TARGet Kids! longitudinal cohort study of Children and Families, with data already collected pre-pandemic and since April 2020 to understand the impact of school participation and childcare attendance on health and developmental outcomes of children and their parents, including their health behaviours, education, development, weight change, and health, developmental, and community services utilization over time in young children age 0-12 years and their parents in the Greater Toronto Area. We also plan to understand the roles parental stress and socio-demographic factors play in these relationships. With repeated data collected before the pandemic and during the first 1.5 years of the pandemic and detailed socio-demographic data collected from a diverse population (one in three children participating in the TARGet Kids! COVID‑19 Study are ethnic minorities), we plan to continue to collect repeated data on multiple domains of child and parent health over the next year to evaluate the long-term effects of COVID‑19 public health measures on Canadian children and their families. Real-time data from a diverse children population are crucial to guide the planning and delivery of mitigation strategies to support the recovery for children and their families from the COVID‑19 pandemic.