Since the Children’s Defense Fund last published our annual State of America’s Children report in February 2020, our children have experienced a year of unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial reckoning years in the making. Every aspect of children’s lives has been impacted by these shifts more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives. This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America’s Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear, “Our Children are Not Immune.”
CDF Urges Congress to Ensure Children and Their Families Are Stably Housing During the Pandemic and Beyond
COVID-19 has exacerbated the nation’s affordable housing crisis—the result of a long history of racist housing policy including chronic underinvestment—the burden of which falls disproportionately on Black and Latino children. The emergency relief passed in December—which provided $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and extended the federal eviction moratorium—was a critical short-term step to protect the millions of families with children who are behind on their rent, but more must be done to ensure that these families emerge from the pandemic free from back rent and the looming threat of eviction.
Families need immediate support as they struggle with the costs of raising children in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and faltering economy. Ensuring that families have adequate support is especially important for the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant communities who have been hit hardest by the current economic and health crises, and who have too often been excluded from support and services. We urge Congress to act without delay to strengthen and expand the Child Tax Credit, and ensure that all children in need are able to regularly and easily access the benefit.
CDF Joins Over 60 Organizations Urging the Incoming Administration to Establish Universal School Meals
We urge the Biden administration to work with Congress and take every administrative step possible to establish Universal School Meals. This would ensure that every child in the U.S. has access to the nutritious breakfast and lunch at school that can help support their academic success. School meals reduce childhood hunger, decrease childhood overweight and obesity, improve child nutrition and wellness, enhance child development and school readiness, and support learning, attendance, and behavior.
Official poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 15, 2020 show nearly 10.5 million children in America lived in poverty in 2019, about 1.4 million fewer than in 2018. The national child poverty rate declined from 16.2 percent in 2018 to 14.4 percent in 2019. Although 2019 data show a decline in poverty numbers, these estimates do not reflect the current realities and heightened disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
236 organizations wrote to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris urging them to boost the economy, tackle racial disparities, and provide much-needed stimulus to help all Americans weather the pandemic and the associated recession by using executive authority to cancel federal student debt on Day One of their administration.
CDF Urges Congress to Take Immediate Action to Address the Pandemic and Provide Support to All Families, Including Immigrants
Many of us have already urged the Senate to adopt specific policies, including reversal of the Trump administration’s public charge policy and inclusive provisions of the HEROES Act legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in May. Since then, while the Senate has failed to act, the COVID-19 death count has doubled, and millions of working families have lost the enhanced unemployment and other financial lifelines then in place. Congress must take immediate action to address the pandemic and to provide support to all individuals and families, including immigrant families.
“Back to School” During a Pandemic: Why Our Children Need Access to Nutritious Food to Learn and Thrive
Child nutrition programs alleviate poverty and hunger, improve child health and well-being, and strengthen development and academic achievement. However, these programs utilize long-standing bene t and eligibility criteria and lengthy reimbursement processes that require providers to cover the costs up front and can be in exible to the growing needs of children and families. This is particularly true during the current pandemic as factors including meal times, meal sites, and delivery are constantly shifting.
On September 15 and 17, the U.S. Census Bureau released national and state-level poverty estimates from 2019. However, these estimates did not adequately capture our present-day realities due to the impacts of COVID-19.