LOS ANGELES — Kids in California were among the hardest hit during the pandemic, according to the just-released 2021 Kids Count report.
Researchers from the Annie E. Casey Foundation crunched the numbers and found as of March, 14% of California households with kids struggled with hunger, which is tied for 6th worst in the country.
Kelly Hardy, senior managing director of health and research at Children Now, said the numbers are twice as high for Black households.
“Food insecurity was even more pronounced for Black and Latino families,” Hardy reported. “Just the most basic needs of kids and families are not being met.”
The report also showed even before the pandemic, California ranked 43rd for children’s economic wellbeing, largely because of the high housing prices. And although we came in 36th for education, that could improve now that the Golden State has committed to funding transitional kindergarten for all four-year-olds.
Hardy called on Congress to extend it indefinitely.
“$300 a month for kids under 6, $250 a month for older children,” Hardy outlined. “This support should be made permanent. It would be a game changer for millions of children and help lift kids and families out of poverty.”
Nationwide, Census Bureau data showed things are starting to turn around.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said for example 11% of households reported they didn’t have health insurance in March, which is 2% better than last fall.
“So, starting to see a little bit of recovery, and we’re hoping those trends continue,” Boissiere observed. “But we do expect that on many wellbeing matters, we’re going to see a decline if we look at 2020 compared to 2019.”
As of 2019, California ranked 11th in the country for getting children insured, mainly the result of a decision to extend Medi-Cal to undocumented kids. But the number still rose from 2018 to 2019 by an extra 35,000 kids, something the authors theorize may be linked to the anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration.