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COVID Pain Points Put Pressure on Hoosier Families

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In recent U.S. Census Bureau community surveys, one in five Indiana families reported feeling "down or hopeless" during the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
In recent U.S. Census Bureau community surveys, one in five Indiana families reported feeling "down or hopeless" during the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
 By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman - Producer, Contact
December 18, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS - The ability to meet basic needs is increasingly out-of-reach for many Hoosier families because of the pandemic.

The challenges facing households with children are detailed in a new national report. The Annie E. Casey Foundation found 16% of Indiana families report not having enough to eat, and 19% said they're worried about making their rent or mortgage payment.

Tami Silverman with the Indiana Youth Institute said there are concerns about possible long-term effects on a child's well-being.

"If children are homeless, if they're not fed, if they're not in a safe environment, that that inhibits their ability to learn," said Silverman. "It can have long term health consequences, and it can cause them to be disengaged, both from their families and from their school communities."

Silverman said families of color are facing greater impacts. The report found 58% of Hispanic households with children have lost income during this time, along with 50% of Black families and 49% of white families.

As Congress tries to hammer out a new COVID relief package, the Casey Foundation's Vice President of External Affairs Leslie Boissiere said policymakers must make sure that any assistance - short-term or long-term - goes to the people who need it most.

"We have to get back to the basics," said Boissiere. "We have to make sure that the poorest and most fragile families are taken care of, and that we're funding those programs that can have an impact and make sure that everybody's basic needs are met in this country."

Silverman added that there's evidence the crisis also is creating more anxiety for households with children. Some 20% of Indiana families describe themselves as feeling "down, depressed or hopeless" in recent weeks.

"We should prioritize the physical and mental health of all children," said Silverman. "That sounds really simplistic, but there's been differing impacts - based on age - of COVID. And yet, kids are still struggling. And they're still struggling because of the household that they live in and some of those additional pressures."

The report urges policymakers to push COVID-19 issues to the top of their 2021 agendas. It calls for steps toward racial and ethnic equality, improving children's physical and mental health, helping families achieve financial stability, and better and more equitable funding for schools.

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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