Kids, Families and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Granite State children and families have been suffering from the unprecedented disruption and economic storm set off by the global health crisis, according to Kids, Families, and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and a Roadmap for Recovery, a 50-state report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
This KIDS COUNT® report examined data from weekly surveys conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau that demonstrate how families across the country are challenged to meet basic needs during this global public health crisis while managing school, work and mental health. The report finds that the concurrent health and economic crises are exacerbating trends that show vulnerable families are unable to fulfill basic needs in New Hampshire and all across the country.
“The unprecedented convergence of emergencies in 2020 have exposed holes in the safety net of programs and policies designed to catch kids and families when they are in moments like these,” said Rebecca Woitkowski, KIDS COUNT Policy Coordinator at New Futures. “Granite State children and families, especially families of color, have been disproportionately impacted by this public health crisis. Now more than ever, equitable health and economic supports are needed to help New Hampshire families thrive.”
Since March, thousands of Granite State parents and caretakers have lost their jobs, incomes and have confronted heightened levels of uncertainty and grief. For those who have been able to continue working, families now face a heightened challenge of finding quality, reliable childcare. Childcare is a critical piece of the state's economy, however, according to Childcare Aware, as of July, over 200 centers around the state have closed their doors, forcing working parents to quit or reduce their hours due to a lack of childcare. While the pandemic did not create the existing childcare crisis, it has worsened an already vulnerable system.
By measuring mental health concerns, health insurance status, food security, and the ability to make rent or mortgage payments, the KIDS COUNT report identified four pain points for children and families. The report reveals how urgent state and national intervention is to the health and well-being of families with children. The report’s key takeaways include:
- Caretaker Mental Health Challenges: 15% of Granite State adults over the age of 18 living with children report feeling down, depressed, or hopeless in the previous week. This indicates a widespread need for mental health supports for those caring for children, in the midst of ongoing uncertainty, isolation and profound grief associated with the Coronavirus.
- Lack of Health Insurance: 7% of New Hampshire families with children do not have health insurance, limiting access to critical physical and behavioral health care.
- Food Insecurity: 10% of Granite State families reported they sometimes or often do not have enough food to eat. Nationally, that number is at 14%, with higher rates for Black and Latino households with children.
- Housing Insecurity: 12% of New Hampshire families reported having slight or no confidence in paying rent or mortgage.
For 2021, New Futures, New Hampshire’s KIDS COUNT organization, has established legislative priorities to benefit Granite State children and families, including protecting investments in New Hampshire's Childcare Scholarship Program to ensure access to quality childcare, and supporting Family Resource Centers and Home Visiting programs to prevent and mitigate childhood trauma. Quality, affordable childcare and family supports, like home visiting and other services offered at family resource centers, are evidence-based programs that lay the foundation for the brain’s developing architecture and help offset trauma, setting a sturdy stage for all of the learning, health, and behavior that follows.
“Families with children have their best chance of thriving and living full lives when they have access to physical and mental health care, education, adequate nourishment, safe housing and high-quality childcare,” Woitkowski said. “Especially in this time of crisis, our lawmakers must support families as a whole to continue to ensure New Hampshire children are given what they need to thrive.”
The 2020 KIDS COUNT report will be available December 14 at 12:01 a.m. EDT here: Kids, Families, and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org. Journalists interested in creating maps, graphs and rankings in stories about the Kids Count report can use the KIDS COUNT Data Center at datacenter.kidscount.org.
ABOUT NEW FUTURES
New Futures is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates, educates and collaborates to improve the health and wellness of all New Hampshire residents. Learn more at new-futures.org.
ABOUT THE ANNIE E. CASEY FOUNDATION
The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org. KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.