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Children, work, and safety on the farm during COVID-19: A harder juggling act


Objectives: Measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the Spring of 2020 immediately raised concerns among farm safety experts about the increase in children’s risk exposure due to changes in childcare and schooling arrangements. The goal of this study is to understand how farm parents were taking care of their children in the early months of COVID-19. Methods: I conducted univariate and inductive content analysis on survey data from 134 farm parents from 38 U.S. states to understand. Results: My findings overall confirm experts’ predictions. The move to distance learning for about three-quarter of respondents with school-age children and changes in childcare arrangements for over half of those with pre-school-age children led respondents to contend with fewer options and added responsibilities. Most frequently used adaptation strategies reflected lower reliance on the traditionally important social networks, a desire to preserve household income, and greater involvement of children on the farm. As a result, taking care of their children became harder for more than half of respondents with likely repercussions on children’s exposure to risk, parents’ well-being, and on the farm business. Conclusion: The empirical insights of this study provide descriptive baseline and contextual data for future research on the impact of COVID-19. The conceptual insights expand the farm safety literature by illustrating the need to study underappreciated structural factors shaping how farm parents juggle children with their professional obligations. Finally, findings around the complexity of raising children and connections to farm productivity and farm safety highlight the importance of considering farm women’s well-being alongside the safety of their children. (author abstract)

Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States

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