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Strengthening the evidence for maternal and child health programs

Reaching Out to Children and Youth During Difficult Times

Professional and Family Resource Brief

The impact on children and families of world uncertainty, disasters, terrorism, trauma, or violence presents many challenges to families and health professionals.

This guide provides resources for helping children and adolescents cope with uncertainty and fear; injury; loss of loved ones; destruction of homes and schools; and other trauma.

Emerging Issue: COVID-19 Resources

American Academny of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry: Talking to Children about Coronavirus
Comprehensive 14-page PDF for download and use.

Bright Horizons: Talking to Children about COVID-19
General guidelines, talking points, and questions and answers to what children might ask.

CDC: Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children
General principles for talking to children and facts about COVID-19 for discussions with children.

Child Mind Institute: Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus
Includes a short video by a trauma and reselliance expert and short list of developmentally-appopriate tips.

Children's National Coronavirus Resources
The Rise and Shine Newsletter includes tips for homeschooling during the outbreak, how to talk to kids about coronavirus, COVID-19 FAQs for kids, what parents need to know.

Mental Health America: Mental Health and COVID-19
Mental health information for disease outbreaks, information on financial support, tools and information on anxiety, tools to connect with others, resources for immediate response, resources for mental health providers, resources for parents, resources for caregivers, resources for older adults.

National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About COVID-19: A Parent Resource
Specific guidelines in English, Spanish, Amharic, Chinese, French, and Vietnamese.

Nemours: KidsHealth: Coronavirus: How to Talk to Your Child
Four-step process in English and Spanish, additional resources for children (what are germs, how can I protect myself, shat to do if I start feeling sick) and parents (what to do if your child is sick, how to prepare your family).

photo of Fred Rogers wearing a red cardigan sweaterWeb Sites

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry: Facts for Families
Topics include talking with children about terrorism and war, posttraumatic stress disorder, the depressed child, television violence, and grief. They are available in English and Spanish, and some are also available in Arabic, Hebrew, Icelandic, Malaysian, Polish, and Urdu.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Children and Disasters
Materials for child care providers, children and youth with special health care needs, hospitals, pediatricians, pediatric practices, and schools. Includes resources on promoting adjustment and helping children cope and talking to children about disasters.

American Red Cross
Resources for disaster preparedness and recovery. Disaster Preparedness for Teachers contains lessons and activities for educators to use in helping students (K-12) work through a broad range of questions, feelings and reactions following a tragic event. Maintaining a Healthy State of Mind: Emotional Responses provides information for adults, parents, and caregivers and middle to high school students about what reactions to expect and how to help themselves and others cope with unexpected events.

Children's National Mental Health Resources
Materials for families and professionals to promote the emotional health of children and youth who are traumatized psychologically by acts of violence, disasters, or terrorism. International and national training, consulting, and collaboration.

MedlinePlus: Disaster Preparation and Recovery
Overviews, videos, research, directories and organizations, related issues; information for children, women, and seniors. Some information available in Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies: For Parents
Materials on preparing for disaster and on helping families and children cope with traumatic events.

National Association of School Psychologists: School Safety and Crisis Resources
Materials on school safety and violence prevention, suicide, crisis response, media and crisis, trauma, natural disasters, war and terrorism, PREPaRE school crisis prevention and response training curriculum, and national emergency assistance team. Some materials are available in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese.

National Center for Disaster Preparedness
Publications on pediatric preparedness, dealing with the aftermath of trauma and other topics. Free online course on dealing with disaster related trauma in young children.

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement
Bereavement guidelines for schools and parents, template letters to use during times of loss, and other resources.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Information for parents and caregivers, professionals, military children and families, educators, and the media. Some materials are available in Spanish.

National Institute of Mental Health: Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Booklets on helping children and adolescents cope with violence and disasters, for community members, parents, and rescue workers, and related materials.

Nemours Center for Children's Health Media: KidsHealth
Educational resources for children, adolescents, parents, educators, and others, on feelings and emotions, dealing with problems, handling stress, and natural disasters.

New York University Child Study Center: Talking About Tough Topics
Tips and guidelines for families on death and grief, war and conflict, 9/11 and disaster, and other traumatic events and tough topics.

Related MCH Digital Library Resources

For more information on this topic, use the MCH Digital Library Advanced Search.

Authors: Olivia K. Pickett, M.A., M.L.S., John Richards, M.A., AITP, NCEMCH
January 2011. Updated December 2012, July 2016, March 2020.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number U02MC31613, MCH Advanced Education Policy, $3.5 M. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.