The crushing weight of the pandemic and economic crisis is showing its effect on area families, according to a new national report on children’s well-being. When the pandemic began, public-policy experts worried families living on the margins would experience even more struggle. This week’s report from the Anna E. Casey Foundation looks at all states, using weekly Census survey data to get a better sense of what families are experiencing. Anne Discher, executive director at Iowa’s Child and Family Policy Center, said the results show the state isn’t immune from what’s going on.
The report also focused on mental health, noting 1 in 5 Iowans in households with children described feeling “down, depressed or hopeless.” Discher said the concerns are even more pronounced in communities of color, and as policymakers carve out short and long-term solutions, they need to ensure equity and diversity of voices.
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Casey Foundation, said the report is a reminder that all children need access to key elements that produce positive outcomes.
Discher said in addition to a new relief package from Congress, policy leaders should be ready to respond to troubling trends in the months and years to come.
She said some of those issues are surfacing from distance learning. Recommendations in the report include guaranteeing any COVID-19 vaccine be available without cost; improving access to such programs as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; boosting investments in education and ensuring schools are more equitably funded.