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Family Environments and Child Development during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Research Team


Principal Investigator: Jenna Finch

Funding Information

Funding Agency: Office of Research and Economic Development—COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Program

Award Date: Aug 1, 2020

End Date: Jul 31, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected children’s lives and home environments with implications for their social-emotional and academic development. 

This study will integrate information on families’ experiences during the pandemic with the ongoing Self-regulation and Motivation in Learning Environments (SMILE) project examining children’s self-regulation, motivation, academic skills and parent-child interactions in a socio-economically diverse sample of elementary school children and their parents. 

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nebraskans have witnessed unprecedented job loss, reduced social connection, and increases in mental health challenges. Participating parents will complete two surveys — in spring/summer and fall 2020 — to help researchers better understand their experiences during the pandemic that are likely to have a dramatic impact on child development. 

Specific aims include:

  • characterizing how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted families’ financial situations, daily activities, mental health, and children’s behaviors; 
  • identifying families’ needs during the pandemic and share this information with relevant stakeholders; and
  • evaluating how experiences during the pandemic are linked with children’s development. 
Findings will help enhance our understanding of risk and resilience processes and gather information on how the community can best support disadvantaged families during and after the pandemic.

Early Childhood Education and Development, Social, Emotional and Behavioral Well-being

The Self-regulation and Motivation In Learning Environments (SMILE) project, whose funding was supplemented by an ORED COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant, examines children as they transition from second to third grade — and how their self-regulation, motivation and interactions with teachers, parents and peers impact their classroom behavior.
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