Report highlights inequities for families, struggle for balance amid COVID crisis

A primary takeaway from a Kids Win Missouri report concluded that different groups are experiencing the pandemic in unique ways and previously existing inequities throughout the state are being exacerbated by new obstacles parents are facing as a result of the pandemic.

On Wednesday, Oct. 7 Kids Win Missouri, a children’s policy and advocacy coalition, released a new report detailing the challenges parents face from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Families throughout Missouri of all backgrounds and in all corners of the state have been impacted in some way by this pandemic,” said Kids Win Missouri Executive Director Brian Schmidt. “We wanted to better understand families’ challenges to help shape our priorities and ensure those most impacted get the support they need.”

In August and September, Kids Win Missouri hosted virtual sessions with 50 parents and surveyed more than 100 parents from throughout the state. Sessions included parents representing various income levels and racial and ethnic backgrounds, and included foster and adoptive parents and parents of children with disabilities.

A primary takeaway from the report concluded that different groups are experiencing the pandemic in unique ways, and previously existing inequities throughout the state are being exacerbated by the new obstacles parents are facing as a result of the pandemic, a press release states.

“We talked to parents from throughout the state – and while they are all experiencing the impacts of the crisis, certain communities are being hit particularly hard,” said Casey Hanson, director of outreach and engagement for Kids Win Missouri. “When talking with parents of color, single parents, parents of children with disabilities or special needs, and foster and adoptive parents, it was clear that the challenges posed by the pandemic are great and attention is needed to ensure children and parents have the resources and support to meet them.”

Other takeaways concluded that parents are struggling to balance work, school, and child care and report feeling overwhelmed, the release states. Generally, parents also craved clearer communication and decisive action from all levels of leadership and government.

The release of the report comes after schools have resumed instruction throughout the state and families are continuing to adapt to the global health crisis, as well as adjusting to a virtual education format. In Missouri, local leaders make decisions on the delivery of K-12 education during the pandemic. By enrollment, about half of students are experiencing a blended learning style or are completely virtual, forty percent are in-person with a distanced option, and ten percent are in-person only (with no distanced option).

Disparities that have long existed in Missouri are widening as a result of the pandemic, the release continues. As of August, 95 counties in Missouri are now considered child care deserts as compared to 63 pre-pandemic. There are 77,000 more children enrolled in MOHealthNet, the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, in August than were in February, and more than 62,500 additional families receiving SNAP benefits in the same time period.

“We want to urge policymakers to target resources where they are most needed and where the greatest inequities exist, so we don’t see these gaps in access to child care, health care, food security and income continue to widen through and beyond the pandemic,” said Craig Stevenson, director of policy and advocacy for Kids Win Missouri. “We also want to ensure that some of the great, family-friendly policies we’ve seen enacted to ensure families can access benefits, like Medicaid and food assistance, remain beyond the crisis, so families feel secure as they rebuild and recover.”

Read the full report attached to this article online.

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