Background: The health, economic, social, political, and psychological consequences of COVID-19 have been deeply felt on a global level. Persons with disabilities, including those from Hispanic/Latino immigrant communities, have faced unique challenges during both the peak and fallout of the pandemic. Throughout both the United States and New York City, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected communities of color. However, the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities among immigrant and communities of color is still unfolding.

Aims: In this paper, we aim to better understand the compounded stress of the COVID-19 pandemic experienced by immigrant families who have a child with a disability.

Methods: A total of twelve parents of children with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities from the Bronx, New York were interviewed in the months following the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. All interviewed parents were first-generation immigrants from Mexico who presently reside in New York City. Semi-structured interviews were conducted using open-ended questions.

Results: Several themes emerged in interviews with families and primarily centered around fear of deportation, inability to access services, and disability-specific challenges. Parents voiced fears of accessing medical services, language interpreter services, and utilizing welfare benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Family concerns also centered around financial consequences from the pandemic, including inability to pay rent, inability to apply or qualify for unemployment, and ineligibility for stimulus checks. Lastly, parents have also experienced numerous difficulties with remote learning and have not received working technologies (i.e., tablets) for their child’s educational and clinical services.

Conclusion: Despite available resources for families in need, immigrants face complex and heightened barriers in accessing these much needed services. Immigration status, fear of deportation (for either the parent or an extended family member), and linguistic barriers to accessing care were particularly evident. Additionally, parents expressed concerns that their children have not received adequate support and technologies to maintain their child’s education and care, which is critical for healthy development.

Plain Language Summary

COVID-19 is hard for immigrants and people with disabilities. We interviewed 12 immigrant families in New York City who have a child with a disability. Parents were afraid they would have to leave the United States. Families needed support and technology from schools. Families also found that hospitals and medical centers did not have information in Spanish. Parents were also afraid to get money from the government.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



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