Poll: Mass. Parents Remain Concerned About Children's Mental Health

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — As the end of the third school year influenced by COVID-19 approaches, nearly half of parents with kids in K-12 schools are concerned about their children's mental health and 22 percent believe their children are behind grade level, according to new poll results.

Forty-eight percent of the 1,469 parents surveyed by The MassINC Polling Group said they were either "very" or "somewhat" concerned with their children's mental and emotional health, down from the 60 percent who responded that way in February 2021.

Pollsters say the results show that mental health concerns can be "intertwined with academic hurdles" and that help for children with mental health challenges "has been spotty," with 48 percent of the parents concerned about mental health saying they were offered help by the school.

Seventy-four percent of parents who see their children as behind grade level also reported mental health challenges, and parents whose children are English language learners or receive services through an individualized education program also reported mental health concerns at higher levels.

The sixth in a series of parent surveys conducted by since spring of 2020, the poll is set to be discussed during a virtual event at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

It was conducted between March 17 and April 11 through live phone and online interviews in English and Spanish, and was sponsored by the Barr Foundation with project input and assistance from the Education Trust.

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In November 2021, 51 percent of parents expected their children to finish the year at grade level, with 35 percent saying ahead of grade level and 9 percent behind grade level. Those numbers shifted in the most recent survey, with 53 percent now anticipating their children end the year at grade level, 23 percent ahead of grade level, and 22 percent behind.

More than half of parents -- 53 percent -- said they thought their kids' school was doing enough to help students catch up if they'd fallen behind academically during the pandemic, and 26 percent said they planned to enroll their child in a summer learning program, like summer school, an acceleration academy, or a camp with an educational component.

Written by Katie Lannan/SHNS.

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