Responding to COVID-19

Statement of Problem

As we continue to follow the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, top of mind for us are the children and families facing significant health and economic challenges as a result of this crisis, its related shelter-in-place directives and continued social distancing measures.

In addition to protecting children and families from the damaging health effects of this virus, it is also imperative that we continue to safely reopen society; prepare for regional increases in COVID-19 transmission as a result of reopening, variant strains and lags in vaccination efforts; address the humanitarian impacts resulting from social distancing and disruptions to caregivers’ abilities to work and youth school attendance; and build a foundation to address future public health crises in an equitable manner.  


At PolicyLab, we are grateful for the work of our team members, frontline health and service providers, and policy leaders in keeping families safe and healthy and mitigating the long-term consequential impacts that the pandemic could have on the well-being of families. Below are some of the areas for which we have been digging in deeper alongside our partners (note: we will update this webpage frequently as work continues):

Informing state & federal policy response to reopening society:

COVID-19 Modeling Work

PolicyLab team members are part of an interdisciplinary team of global experts using actual case data to track and longitudinally project, in real-time, the COVID-19 epidemic across more than 800 U.S. counties. Explore more about the project and its weekly updates:

Reopening and Keeping Open Schools

PolicyLab team members, alongside colleagues in Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Division (CHOP) of Infectious Diseases, have developed guidance to support local jurisdictions and school administrators in their plans to safely reopen, and keep open, schools. 

Reopening Communities

We developed a policy review that draws on evidence from influenza response efforts, previous epidemics, and occupational health literature to propose COVID-19-specific strategies surrounding workplace policies, surveillance and testing. 

Returning to Youth Sports

PolicyLab teamed up with CHOP’s Sports Medicine and Performance Center, Division of Infectious Diseases, and Center for Injury Research and Prevention to release guidance on returning to youth sports for programs, coaches, parents and athletes following COVID-19 shutdowns. 

Preparing for the Next Pandemic

PolicyLab team members have been developing resources and providing recommendations for how we can be better prepared to respond to the next phase of COVID-19 and any future pandemics.

Health equity:

Our experts are closely monitoring health equity issues related to the pandemic, and we are connecting with policymakers to help address disparities affecting racial/ethnically diverse families, immigrant and limited English proficient populations, youth with special health care needs and more.

Collaboration with the State

Early Childhood

Supporting Children with Special Health Care Needs

Immigrant and Limited-English-Proficient Communities' Health

Addressing Disparities

Behavioral health:

Our behavioral health researchers are working to ensure that all children and their families receive the mental health services they need following the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We’re exploring issues related to Medicaid payment and reimbursement; support for innovations in care delivery; a sharpened focus on racial/ethnic inequities in our systems of care; and more.  

Child care:

PolicyLab experts are providing guidance to policymakers, child care providers, and caregivers on how to ensure that child care centers can remain open while also protecting the safety of staff and families throughout the course of the pandemic.

Child welfare/child maltreatment:

Our child welfare experts are closely monitoring the effects of the pandemic on child abuse and the potential effects of the pandemic on the child welfare system. PolicyLab is supporting state policymakers with emerging data surrounding child abuse, and with increases in opioid ingestions among children. 

Community resources:

CHOP’s community resource map,—developed through a partnership between the Division of Social Work, Healthier Together, Population Health, Safe Place, the Primary Care Network and others—is helping patients, families, and providers search for local community resources by zip code and key categories, such as food and financial support. The team partners with community-based organizations and other health care systems to update the site with services specific to COVID-19, and is also sharing this information through the CHOP Emergency Department, main hospital and primary care clinics.

Our team members, alongside an interdisciplinary group of experts from CHOP’s Social Work Department, Primary Care Network, and Safe Place, developed an issue brief that offers guidance on strategies health care systems and providers could adopt to effectively implement screening and support families in meeting their social needs. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened disparities that many low-income and racial/ethnic minority families continue to face, developing interventions collaboratively with communities has never been more important in improving the well-being of patients and families.

Early intervention:

Our researchers are leading a rapid-response study to understand the experience families with young kids who receive Early Intervention (EI) services are having with these programs, as well as with new virtual EI services. The information gleaned from this study should help with planning for future crises and pandemics.


PolicyLab researchers have been supporting CHOP’s roll-out of increased telehealth services following the recent relaxation of federal and state guidelines. We helped organize a system for patient engagement with youth living with HIV and transgender youth who cannot visit clinic right now.


Next Steps

The health, social, and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are sure to have long-lasting effects on the well-being of children and families. PolicyLab will continue to be a voice for youth as we work to inform evidence-based policy solutions that directly address our response to this crisis, as well as our nation’s efforts to reopen society, recover from the lingering health and social impacts and manage future outbreaks.


Suggested Citation

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, PolicyLab. Responding to COVID-19 [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: plug in date accessed here]. 

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