President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan provided at least $350 million for states, counties, municipalities and tribal governments, but without additional assistance children and their families will continue to suffer after trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore released a report Monday, June 21 that outlined how states ranked in providing a child’s well-being and surveyed parents/guardians in March on various concerns they expressed during the pandemic.
One major recommendation to relieve future parental stress would be making the child tax credit permanent, scheduled to be implemented next month.
Eligible parents with children under age 6 would receive $300 per month, or $3,600 for a year. The amount decreases to $250 per month for each older dependent for a total of $3,000.
With this approval, the foundation concludes this could lift four million children nationwide above the poverty line this year.
In 2019, about 12 million children, or 17 percent lived in poverty, according to the report.
“This child tax credit is such a powerful tool for addressing those long-standing racial and ethnic inequities,” said Michael Cassidy, director of policy, reform and advocacy for the foundation. “That immediate monthly help for parents is incredibly important…so they can pay the power bill, get the car fixed, buy clothes for the kids, put food on the table. It is imperative for lawmakers to take action right now.”
The foundation produces an annual report entitled “KIDS COUNT Data Book – State Trends in Child Well-Being.” This document not only provides a few recommendations for state and local lawmakers, but also summarizes national and state data on economic well-being, education, health and family and community.
With more than 149 million people ages 12 and older fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans are prepared to return to a sense of normalcy in work and personal activities.
However, 18 percent of those surveyed between March 3-29 have “slight or no confidence in paying rent or mortgage on time.” In 10 states the percentage of those with slight or not confidence about paying their rent or mortgage on time was 20 percent or higher.
Locally, 17 percent of those surveyed in the District, 16 percent in Maryland and eight percent in Virginia responded they have slight or no confidence.
In terms of race, the concern about meeting housing costs was 30 percent for Blacks and Latinos while 11 percent of whites voiced such concerns.
“The impact has been disproportionately hard on lower-income families, families of color throughout the country. These are families that were struggling before the pandemic,” Cassidy said. “This data is showing how they continue to struggle to afford housing, food and health care is really challenging. That’s why it is vitally important that the federal government and state governments take actions to deliver the help and relief to these troubling families.”
The report also recommended:
- State lawmakers permanently extend assistance eligibility for gig workers, also labeled independent contractors such as freelancers, representing 34 percent of the nation’s workforce.
- Ensure every child has broadband internet access at home and invest in tutoring programs.
- Elected officials prioritize racial and ethnic diversity in policy decisions.
In terms of child well-being, Maryland ranked 24th overall with its highest ranking at 20th in education where the index results were depressed by the number of children aged three and four not in school, fourth graders not proficient in reading, eighth-grade students not proficient in math and high schoolers not graduating on time.
Two groups, the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture and Maryland Truth and Reconciliation Lynching Commission, announced a partnership Friday, June 18 to promote racial equity, healing and social justice.
One of its eight police recommendations calls for state school officials to update the public school curriculum on the state’s history.
“We know it’s policies that need to be changed. Teaching the truth,” said the Rev. Tamara Wilson, pastor of Nu Season Nu Day Church & Ministries of Baltimore and chair of the African American commission. “We have to acknowledge the fact that Black people weren’t just poor because they were lazy. They were poor because of the systemic problems that they have faced because of racism. Let’s find a solution to fix the problem.”
For information on the report and its data, go to www.aecf.org.