CHEQ COVID Report: Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Families with Young Children in British Columbia

The Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (CHEQ) is a questionnaire completed by parents and caregivers at the start of the kindergarten school year. It is an innovative way to learn about and report on children’s experiences in their early environments, focusing on specific areas of development that are strongly linked to children’s health and well-being, education and social outcomes. 

But what happens when children experience a pandemic? 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of children’s lives and presents a significant risk to their health and well-being. The scale and scope of the pandemic are unprecedented and will have long-lasting effects on the development of our children (Benner & Mistry, 2020). 

Although the infection rate for children is lower and the virus is generally milder (She et al., 2020), children are at significant risk due to disruption to their proximal contexts and daily lives (Benner & Mistry, 2020).  Risk factors include disruptions due to illness or death, financial instability, educational disruptions as a result of closures of child care facilities and schools, physical distancing restrictions, and the effects on social interactions and activities, among many others. 

The CHEQ Project provided a timely opportunity for researchers at HELP to gather information on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on kindergarten children and their families in different regions of British Columbia. 

In addition to completing the standard CHEQ questionnaire, families where asked additional questions that centered on the impacts of COVID-19 on parents, caregivers, children and families. These questions asked about changes in experiences during two time periods: Pre-pandemic to April 2020 (acute phase) and April to October 2020 (ongoing impact). 

Findings from the CHEQ provided evidence of the challenges and changes children and families in communities in BC experienced during this pandemic. Of note, the data collected showed a significant relationship between family income and experiences. As income decreased parents in our sample reported more negative experiences such as feeling less rested, less able to support their children’s play, and more stress. Researchers at HELP believe this data highlights how existing income disparities have likely been exacerbated by the pandemic. This information is powerful and can be used by schools, communities and all levels of government to guide targeted supports for children and their families as the pandemic continues and into the future. 

View CHEQ COVID Rapid Report

Please Note
When reviewing these results, please remember that the sample is not representative of all Kindergarten families in BC. For more information please contact Dr. Alisa Almas