Guest Commentary

New report examines status of Missouri children before pandemic COVID-19 virus struck

Posted 6/23/21

Fewer Missouri children were living in economically vulnerable households when the pandemic disrupted the economy than at the end of the Great Recession. The Annie E. Casey Foundation 2021 KIDS COUNT …

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Guest Commentary

New report examines status of Missouri children before pandemic COVID-19 virus struck

Posted

Fewer Missouri children were living in economically vulnerable households when the pandemic disrupted the economy than at the end of the Great Recession. The Annie E. Casey Foundation 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book documents the well-being of children in 2019, providing a baseline to measure pandemic recovery.

JEFFERSON CITY — In 2019, fewer Missouri children lived in households with incomes below the federal poverty line than at any point in the prior decade.
During the years of recovery from the Great Recession, the number of Missouri’s kids who lived in poverty fell to less than one in five and sat at 17 percent in 2019, according to the 2021 KIDS COUNT Data Book. The 50-state report shares recent household data developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and provides analysis on how families have fared between 2010 and the COVID-19 crisis.
This year’s Data Book shows nearly a decade of progress could be erased by the COVID-19 pandemic unless policymakers act boldly to sustain the beginnings of a recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
Bill Dent, executive director of the Family and Community Trust (FACT) noted that “in Missouri we have seen firsthand the great challenges the pandemic unleashed on communities in our state. We are fortunate to have our network of 20 Community Partnerships who were nimble enough to pivot to meet the ever-changing needs of children and families during this time of crisis. Their ingenuity has been remarkable, and we need to capitalize on their experience to help inform state and community leaders on what worked and what did not.”
Annually, the KIDS COUNT Data Book tracks 16 indicators measuring four domains — economic well-being, education, health, and family and community to assess child well-being.
The KIDS COUNT data and rankings represent the most recent information available but do not capture the impact of the past year:
• 352,000 children lived in households where no parent had year-round, full-time employment.
• ECONOMIC WELL-BEING: In 2019, approximately 229,000 Missouri children lived in households with an income below the poverty line.
• EDUCATION: During the three-year period between 2017 and 2019, 54 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds were not in preschool. However, compared with other states, Missouri students graduate from high school at high rates and on time (ranked sixth).
• AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE: In 2019, an estimated 95,000 children did not have public or private health insurance.
• FAMILY AND COMMUNITY CONTEXT: In 2019, 430,000 Missouri kids lived in single-parent households.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey gauged the impact of the pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021.
In March 2021, nearly 43 percent of Missouri households with children reported losing some employment income and as many as 32 percent of those households had trouble paying for usual household expenses. Among adults with young children surveyed by Washington University in St. Louis, one-third said that they are now less likely to return to work due to a lack of childcare.
Investing in children, families and communities is a priority to ensure an equitable and expansive recovery. Several of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s suggestions have already been enacted in the American Rescue Plan, and additional recommendations include:
• Congress should make the expansion of the child tax credit permanent.
• State and local governments should prioritize the recovery of hard-hit communities of color.
• States should expand income support that helps families care for their children.
• States that have not done so should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
• States should strengthen public schools and pathways to postsecondary education and training.
The 2021 KIDS COUNT® Data Book is available for online viewing at www.aecf.org. Additional information is available at www.aecf.org/databook.

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