Disparities Persist in MA Despite Top Rank for Child Well-Being
Thursday, June 24, 2021
BOSTON -- A new report ranks Massachusetts 'Number One' nationally among states for overall child well-being, but advocates for children and families say when you dig deeper, many successes have been uneven.
Some 12% of the Commonwealth's children were living in poverty prior to the pandemic, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2021 Kids Count Data Book.
Marie-Frances Rivera, president of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, said especially when looking at economic indicators from surveys during the pandemic, many communities of color and low-income communities are not faring as well.
"We've seen housing challenges increase, we've seen child-care slots become more scarce. We've seen that families and children really need reliable internet service," Rivera explained. "So, we're seeing those disparities become even more transparent and increase for communities."
She believes bold solutions are needed to address and repair the harms communities have faced, whether that be improvements to affordable housing and public transit or investments in education, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education.
The American Rescue Plan includes expanding the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 a year to up to $3,600 per child, depending on their age, with payments starting in July.
Rivera said she sees the Child Tax Credit as one key way to help families.
"Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit here on the state level is another way of doing that," she added. "There are cities in Massachusetts that are piloting guaranteed-income programs. So, we strongly believe, especially in a state as unequal as Massachusetts, that getting money directly into people's pockets is really crucial."
At the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Leslie Boissiere, vice president for external affairs, urged policymakers to make the expansion permanent, adding that children who grow up in poverty often have worse health outcomes.
"They live in substandard housing that has issues like mold and lead that go untreated," Boissiere said. "Lower-income families live in poorer neighborhoods that have poorer-resourced schools, so their education outcomes tend to be worse."
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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