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Report Suggests More CT Families Backslid Financially in Pandemic

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Friday, June 25, 2021   

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Connecticut ranks in the top 10 states for children's education and health, but its families rank lower in terms of economic well-being. Groups advocating for families said the numbers in a new report confirm an urgent need for more state and federal aid.

The 2021 Kids Count Data Book from Annie E. Casey Foundation reveals between 2010 and 2019, more Connecticut kids lived in poverty, compared to national trends that show a decrease.

Lauren Ruth, research and policy director at Connecticut Voices for Children, attributed the trend to slower rates of parents securing employment, and the state's growing income and wealth gaps.

"Connecticut is a high cost-of-living state," Ruth explained. "So when we're seeing more and more children living in poverty, that doesn't actually measure the need of children. Living in poverty is a very economically bad place to be in Connecticut, because everything is so expensive."

The report shows wide disparities for child poverty as well. Latino and Black children account for 29% and 27%, respectively, of those living in poverty, compared to just 5% of white children in the state.

Ruth believes to help families recover, the federal Child Tax Credit should be permanently expanded, and Connecticut should create its own state Child Tax Credit.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, said money from the one-year Child Tax Credit expansion in the American Rescue Plan will arrive as early as July.

"For families with children under the age of six, it's $300 a month that those families will be receiving," Boissiere pointed out. "So, at a time when families are concerned with being able to pay their mortgage, or to pay their rent or to provide food for their families, it's a significant amount."

Connecticut Voices for Children thinks the state should take further actions as well, such as extending unemployment insurance to contract and gig workers.

The Data Book ranked Connecticut third-highest in the U.S. for enrollment of three- and four-year-olds in preschool. Ruth stressed Connecticut's economic recovery must include state investment in universal, affordable access to childcare.

"So that we're creating really high-quality centers and family childcare homes for children to learn and thrive and grow in, and that allows parents to get back into the workforce, now that more of our economy is opening up," Ruth urged.

She added since the pandemic, about 15% of preschool facilities in the state have closed permanently.

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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