Children in several southern states have fared the worst during COVID-19, according to a new report on how children in the US have experienced hunger, the disadvantages of remote learning and problems with household bills. . Louisiana ranked last in Save the Children’s “Child-Centered” US Household Analysis, which examined US Census Bureau surveys of the last four months of 2020. At that time state, one in four families does not have enough food to eat, and a quarter also do not have access to the Internet or access to a digital device for educational use. Half have difficulty paying household expenses.
That said, the statewide rankings hide large disparities, according to the report. “Even in the best states, the poorest families are often much more likely to suffer the negative effects of COVID than the richest families,” the authors said. Meanwhile, many families with children have experienced “multiple and overlapping” struggles during this health and economic crisis. The authors added that there are significant equity gaps in income, geography, and race and ethnicity. For example, black (28%) and Hispanic (25%) families are about twice as likely as their white counterparts (13%) to report that they do not have enough food to eat. Children of color are also more likely than white children to participate in distance education and not have direct access to their teachers; Black families are much more likely to have no access to digital devices or the Internet. And black and Hispanic families are more likely to have a hard time paying bills. Meanwhile, despite COVID-19 having a relatively low death toll among children, a disproportionate share of coronavirus-related child deaths have been children of color. In all, an estimated 17 million children in the US are starving, two out of three families are struggling to pay household expenses, and one in four families who rent is behind on payments. A quarter of children, especially those in rural areas, do not always have the necessary tools for distance learning. The report got its data on insufficient food, inadequate remote learning tools, and difficulties paying bills from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT data center. “Having access to enough food and continuing to learn is essential for a child’s healthy growth and development,” the report said. “When a family cannot cover their regular expenses, including housing, it creates a level of stress and trauma that further threatens the child’s ability to thrive.” See also: The proportion of children visiting the emergency department for mental health problems has increased during the pandemic Read more: How COVID-19 is keeping children away from the dentist, especially children with Medicaid