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Report: WA Children Faring Better than in Other States During Pandemic

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A recent report ranked Washington state third best for the well-being of children during the pandemic. (Gargonia/Adobe Stock)
A recent report ranked Washington state third best for the well-being of children during the pandemic. (Gargonia/Adobe Stock)
 By Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA - Producer, Contact
March 2, 2021

SEATTLE -- Millions of children in the United States are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis, although Washington kids are doing better than others.

A new report from Save the Children looks at hardships in three areas: hunger, families' abilities to pay the bills, and their access to tools for remote learning.

It credits Washington state for its response to the pandemic, ranking it third best in these markers.

Amee Barlet, Washington state deputy director of programs for Save the Children, noted however, children in the state still are suffering.

"Eleven percent of Washington households with kids reported not having enough food to eat and 7% reported inadequate tools for remote learning, and 36% reported having difficulty paying bills," Barlet outlined. "So, while we're ranked number three, there's still work to be done."

Save the Children analyzed four months of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse surveys through the end of 2020.

Gaps in well-being widened on a number of fronts. Low-income families, children of color and children in rural communities were more likely to go hungry and lack access to remote learning tools.

Barlet gave an example of how the pandemic has affected one family in Washington.

A mother working as a tourism-dependent housekeeper lost her job and struggled to get unemployment because she only has access to the internet on her phone.

Barlet added when she finally did, she was already behind on bills, in a continuous game of catch-up to survive.

"She has gone through periods where there just wasn't anything on the shelf, depending on food banks and other supports to keep herself and her child full, or at least not hungry," Barlet recounted.

Tamara Sandberg, U.S. advisor for food security and nutrition at Save the Children, said children in states such as Washington fared well because they were prioritized before the pandemic and not necessarily because these states saw lower rates of the virus.

"Lawmakers in Washington have a history of significant investments in making sure that all kids have access to high-quality early childhood programs, and reaching the kids who are most in need," Sandberg stressed.

Minnesota and Utah ranked above Washington in Save the Children's analysis.

Disclosure: Save the Children contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Early Childhood Education, Education, and Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
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