The Annie E. Casey Foundation has released a report showcasing the struggles of kids and families during the COVID-19 pandemic, with recommendations for an equitable roadmap to recovery.
The report, Kids, Families and COVID-19, uses data from U.S. Census Household Pulse Surveys to compile information about health and healthcare, economic stability and education during the pandemic. The report serves to expose gaps in the nation’s economic safety net programs, highlight racial disparities in pandemic hardships and make recommendations for policymakers on how to provide for kids and families through an equity lens.
The foundation has also compiled state-specific COVID-19 data in its Kids Count Data Center. The Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP), which provides Michigan’s Kids Count data, found that 62% of Michigan households have lost employment income since March. While Michigan is faring better than other states in some aspects, our state is seeing higher rates of distress in areas related to economic security and mental health.
Data points from Michigan include:
15% of families report sometimes or often not having enough food to eat (compared to 14% nationally).
15% report slight or no confidence in making rent or mortgage payments on time (compared to 18% nationally).
7% report not having health insurance (compared to 12% nationally).
22% report feeling down, depressed or hopeless (compared to 21% nationally).
CMF sent a letter to members of Congress earlier this month, urging them to move quickly on a federal relief package that prioritizes early childhood care and education, internet access and unemployment insurance, among other critical areas.
Data also shows that—nationally—families of color are more likely to report concerns than white families. For example, 23% of Black families and 19% of Latinx families report sometimes or often not having enough to eat, compared to only 10% of white families.
“We have known since the coronavirus pandemic hit Michigan that it was going to hit families with children particularly hard, but this report gives us concrete data to show how parents are faring and where help is most needed,” Kelsey Perdue, Michigan Kids Count project director at MLPP said in a press release. “We have an opportunity to do more at both the state and federal level to help parents get by during these difficult times, including being able to put enough food on their table, keep a roof over their heads and keep them physically and mentally well.”
To mitigate the impact on children and families, the report provides a series of recommendations for lawmakers.
Put racial and ethnic equity first in response efforts. Lawmakers should ensure that diverse perspectives are incorporated when making policy considerations and establish benchmarks for reducing inequities before reopening schools or businesses.
Prioritize the physical and mental health of children. In addition to making the COVID-19 vaccine available for all, lawmakers should strengthen the Affordable Care Act and improve access to mental health resources for children and families.
Help families with children achieve financial stability and bolster economic well-being. Congress should expand benefits for unemployment, housing and food assistance and childcare, as well as increase the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to provide additional resources for families.
Ensure schools are equitably funded to be ready to meet the needs of students affected by the pandemic. In addition to instituting equitable funding, state and federal lawmakers should address other inequities for students during the pandemic, including limited access to food, technology and other key resources students need to learn effectively.
“If lawmakers have been waiting for a clear signal and opportunity to pass policy that helps vulnerable kids and families, this is it,” Perdue said. “Michigan kids and their parents urgently need help, and our leaders need to respond with that same sense of urgency. There are plenty of concrete pieces of legislation to address unemployment and other relief that are just waiting for a vote.”
View the Kids, Families and COVID-19 report.
See Michigan-specific COVID-19 data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.