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ND Households with Kids Share Their Struggles in New Report

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020   

FARGO, N.D. - A new report confirms that vulnerable families in North Dakota are experiencing more struggles as the pandemic drags on. Households with children say housing payments and health coverage are becoming increasingly out of reach.

This week's report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation looked at all states, using weekly census survey data to get a better sense of what families are experiencing. Fifteen percent of North Dakota households said they're worried they won't be able to cover their rent or mortgage payments in the near future. One in eight households said they can't afford health insurance for their kids.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president for external affairs at the Casey Foundation, said it all adds up to an overwhelming sense of pressure.

"They're also struggling with their mental and their physical health," she said. "Twelve percent of families don't have health insurance, one in three has postponed getting needed medical care, and one in five have experienced depression since the pandemic."

The number of North Dakota households that report feeling down or depressed is one in seven. In addition to boosting mental-health services, the report recommended guaranteeing COVID-19 vaccines be available at no cost, boosting investments in education and ensuring schools are more equitably funded.

Also in North Dakota, 6% of households with children said they didn't have enough food to eat. Xanna Burg, who coordinates the Kids Count program for North and South Dakota and Montana, said that need more than likely runs deeper, since the survey data only covers short periods of time.

"So really, we think that hunger is something that families are struggling with in North Dakota," she said, "even though the snapshot of data in this report maybe indicates a lower percentage."

Burg said these problems of overall family instability stand to have long-term effects on a child's development, but she says that can be mitigated through short-term responses by policymakers, including a new COVID relief package being debated in Congress.

Disclosure: Annie E. Casey Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Criminal Justice, Early Childhood Education, Education, Juvenile Justice, Welfare Reform. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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