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MT Families Face 'Impossible Decisions' During Pandemic

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Thursday, December 17, 2020   

HELENA, Mont. -- Montana families are struggling during the pandemic, putting the well-being of children in the state at risk.

A new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation finds one in seven Montana families are struggling to put food on the table and nearly one in seven isn't confident it'll be able to pay the rent or mortgage on time.

Xanna Burg, Kids Count Montana coordinator, said households are faced with impossible decisions on how to prioritize children's most basic needs.

"As families are navigating this crisis, there really is clear evidence that we need policymakers to act now, to prioritize the needs of children and families so that no Montanan is going hungry, without adequate housing or the health care they need," Burg urged.

The report also found one in ten Montana families doesn't have health insurance and one in five reported feeling depressed or helpless in the past week.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said communities of color are experiencing higher levels of insecurity in every marker during the pandemic.

"The pandemic has laid bare and really exacerbated racial and ethnic inequities in this country," Boissiere contended. "And we've seen that Black, Latino and native communities in particular have been hard hit."

Burg stressed Montana leaders need to continue supporting Medicaid expansion, which provides health care for about 90,000 adults.

"Montana must ensure that parents have health insurance even if they've lost their jobs because parents who are healthy have healthier children," Boissiere emphasized.

The report recommends leaders prioritize racial and ethnic equity; help ensure families are stable financial through programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; and ensure schools are better funded.

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


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