The global response to COVID-19 has focused on prevention, detection, and response. In addition to significant concerns related to morbidity and mortality, the pandemic has had profound secondary impacts. A grave concern is the loss of caregivers, with current estimates that more than 5 million children worldwide have experienced the death of a primary caregiver. This means that over the past six months, one child has been affected every six seconds. Children who have lost primary caregivers often face even more adverse consequences, including poverty, abuse, and institutionalization. As with so many aspects of the COVID-19 emergencies, this highlights existing fragilities and inequalities, and it calls us to urgent action. Addressing the loss these children have experienced—and the risks they now face—must be a priority for our collective response now and in the future, at Georgetown University and beyond.
This panel discussed coronavirus-associated caregiver loss and the work being done by the international community, the U.S. government, and faith-based actors to support vulnerable children and turn the tide toward better care. It was moderated by Gillian Huebner, executive director of the Georgetown University Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues.
This event was co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Collaborative on Global Children's Issues, Global Health Initiative, and Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
Gretchen Bachman is the senior advisor on orphans and vulnerable children within the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy in the U.S. Department of State. She is also a leadership committee member of Together for Girls and a founding member of the Better Care Network.
Philip Goldman is the co-founder and president of Maestral International. He is also a member of the Lancet Commission on the Institutionalization and Deinstitutionalization of Children, for which he co-authored a paper on global minimum estimates of children affected by COVID-19-associated orphanhood and the death of caregivers.
Gillian Huebner is the executive director of the Collaborative on Global Children's Issues at Georgetown University. Huebner's work has focused on supporting the development, strengthening, and coordination of programs and systems to enhance community-based and nationally-owned approaches to building young people’s resilience and supporting children at risk. She has done this work with the UN, the U.S. government, private foundations, and non-governmental organizations.
Aniruddha Kulkarni is a child protection specialist and UNICEF’s global lead on child protection systems. He has served UNICEF for fifteen years. Prior to this, he served as the senior research coordinator at College of Social Work Nirmala Niketan in Mumbai, India.
Katherine Marshall is a senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, where she leads the center's work on religion and global development, and a professor of the practice of development, conflict, and religion in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She helped to create and now serves as the executive director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue. She is also vice president of the G20 Interfaith Association. Marshall worked at the World Bank from 1971 to 2006.