Experiences of Albertan Families with Young Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Descriptive Report

This report describes data collected from Albertan families on the COVID-19 Impact Survey implemented in May 2020, which built on a unique collaboration across two longitudinal cohorts in Alberta: The All Our Families study (AOF) and the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition study (APrON). Our objectives were as follows: (1) Describe household infections of COVID-19 in Alberta among families with school-aged children; (2) Describe urban Albertan family experiences of the pandemic within the first 3-4 months of the outbreak across the areas of financial impact, maternal mental health and well-being, school and daily life, and relationships in the home; and (3) Describe associations among key predictor variables (e.g., financial impact) and outcomes (e.g., maternal anxiety, concern for child’s well-being). Study Sample: AOF and APrON Cohort participants reflect families parenting at least one child in between the ages of 8 and 12. While the respondents represent a broad range of income, education and ethnicity, they are typified by adequate income, food and housing security and partnered marital status. Highlighted Results: Physical Impact: At the time of data collection in May, 2020, over 90% of families did not have personal experience with COVID-19, either through personal infection, infection of a child, extended family member or close friend. Vaccine Intentions: Although over 60% of mothers and their children would obtain a COVID-19 vaccine when available, almost 30% are undecided and 8% would not obtain a vaccine. Financial Impact: In 58% of all families, at least one parent experienced job loss, loss of main income source, or reduced employment hours. One in five mothers reported difficulty meeting financial needs for the household, and 5% of families were experiencing food insecurity. Over 40% of respondents reported at least some impact on their ability to meet financial obligations. Mental Health and Wellness Impact: Mothers reported elevated levels of stress (21%), anxiety (25%) and depression (35%). Approximately 26% of mothers reported having limited coping skills. Almost 90% of mothers have undertaken more domestic tasks in the home. Mothers also reported that their children showed increased sadness and behavioural challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has had profound financial and mental health impact on some families. Investment in strategies to alleviate financial stress, provide parenting supports, and alleviate mental health concerns is critical. Suggested Citation: McDonald S, Edwards S, Hetherington E, Racine N, Mueller M, McArthur BA, Madigan S, Dewey D, Geisbrecht G, Letourneau N, Tough S. Experiences of Albertan Families with Young Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Descriptive Report. Calgary, Alberta: University of Calgary; 2020.
4 version of report: Full report, short report, short report (French), executive summary.
Physical Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic, COVID-19 Vaccine Intentions, Financial Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, Maternal Concerns related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Maternal Mental Health and Wellness Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic, Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on School and Daily Life, Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Relationships Inside the Home, Associations: Financial Impact and Coping
McDonald S., Edwards S., Hetherington E., Racine, N., Mueller, M., McArthur, B.A., Madigan, S., Dewey, D., Geisbrecht, G., Letourneau, N., Tough, S. (2020). Experiences of Albertan families with young children during the COVID-19 pandemic: A descriptive report. University of Calgary.