CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES: Ensuring their inclusion in COVID-19 response strategies and evidence generation

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How are children with disabilities faring during the covid-19 pandemic?
What added challenges are children with disabilities facing in the current crisis?
Are children with disabilities accessing online learning?
How are families of children with disabilities coping with the socioeconomic fallout?
Several months into the COVID-19 crisis, the questions above remain largely unanswered. However, evidence is beginning to emerge that points to increased risks for children with disabilities as well as reduced access to services. Understanding such risks and assessing the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic are key to shaping a response that takes into account the needs of all children.

Since the start of the crisis, governments have struggled to meet unprecedented demands. Disruptions to services, ranging from education to child protection, have been documented, with disproportionate effects on the most vulnerable children and families. In many cases, governments have responded creatively and adapted services to address critical needs. Documenting such disruptions along with mitigation measures is central to spotlighting the immediate and long-term interventions that must be put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of all children.

While much has been learned, far more remains unknown. Research and data collection are needed to draw attention to the experiences of children with disabilities during the pandemic, to advocate for a range of services to be available now and in the future, and to inform the design of specific interventions. That said, children and adults with disabilities are likely to remain invisible in data collection efforts, unless dedicated measures are put in place to make such efforts disability-inclusive.

As more data on children with disabilities become available, the insights they offer must be woven into the public discourse surrounding the pandemic so that the needs of these children are considered during the decision-making processes leading to a response.
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