Report highlights pain points for Michigan kids during pandemic


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New data reveals what many policy experts have feared for months: the pandemic has taken a serious toll on the well-being of Michigan's children.

Using data from weekly U.S. census surveys, a report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows in Michigan, 15% of parents are struggling to put food on the table, and 15% don't know if they'll be able to pay the rent or mortgage next month.

Kelsey Perdue is the Kids Count Project Director at the Michigan League for Public Policy. She explained some families have lost jobs or income — and health care coverage.

"Parents in households with children, 7% of them reported not being insured," Perdue said. "And so in the midst of a health and economic crisis, it's a clear call to action to make sure that all children can be covered in our state."

The report showed the pandemic has exacerbated racial and ethnic inequities, with Black, Latino, and native communities hit hardest by the crisis.

Perdue explained the pandemic also has had a negative impact on social-emotional health.

"Over a third of Michigan households with children reported feelings of anxiety. About 20% said that they felt down, depressed or hopeless," she said. "And so mental-health concerns are going to be really, really important to address."

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs with the Casey Foundation, said bold action is needed to ensure children emerge from the pandemic healthy and safe.

"We have to get back to the basics," Boissiere said. "We have to make sure that the poorest and most fragile families in our economy are taken care of and that we're funding those programs that can have an impact and make sure that everybody's basic needs are met in this country."

The report offered several suggestions, including guaranteeing any COVID-19 vaccine be available without cost; improving access to programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; and boosting investments in education and ensuring schools are more equitably funded.

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