214,000 American children lost parents to COVID. They have ‘a lifetime of grief ahead’

May 6, 2022

“Besides the unimaginable loss of losing your parents, this can be quite detrimental economically,” said California Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. She’s proposed a bill, SB854, the HOPE for Children Act, to create modest financial cushions for children bereaved by COVID and foster children. (Foster children would be included regardless of whether they lost a parent to COVID.)

The bill, which backers say is the first of its kind in the nation, has two components. First, it would establish savings accounts for children under 18 who lost a parent or caregiver to the virus and for foster children.

Currently, the idea is to deposit about $4,000 in an interest-bearing account for children younger than 9 and double that amount for older kids, who wouldn’t have as long for the money to compound. Bereaved children would receive the funds at age 18, by which time they might have amassed somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000. Disbursement criteria still need to be worked out, but ideally the money would go toward education, housing or other critical needs.

“Most of us, when we turn 18, can rely on parents for first/last rent in our first apartment, or help with some college expenses — any number of things these children may not have,” Skinner said. “This would give them that hope that they will not be abandoned in the future. We’re not talking inordinate amounts of money — talking about a bridge so a young person doesn’t feel without support.”

 

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