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Pandemic-Relief Measures Can Help More NC Kids

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021   

RALEIGH, N.C. -- New survey data offer a clear picture of how North Carolina kids and families are faring, both before and after the pandemic.

The Tarheel State ranks 34th in the nation for overall child well-being in the 2021 Kids Count Data Book from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Vikki Crouse, policy analyst and North Carolina Kids Count director for NC Child, said before the pandemic, one in five kids lived in households with incomes below the poverty line. Then, massive job losses meant thousands of parents suddenly had no, or reduced, income and few options for child care.

"So we know that the pandemic took a toll on everyone, but especially parents and caregivers," Crouse contended.

According to the report, the percentage of adults in households with kids experiencing symptoms of depression rose from 19% last year, to 22% in March of this year.

The data also reveal in 2020, 22% of households with children experienced housing insecurity, reporting "little or no confidence" in their ability to pay their next rent or mortgage payment. In March 2021, that figure has dipped to 17%.

However, Crouse pointed out affordable housing continues to be a pressing issue.

"And that is really concerning because certainly, families and kids don't fare well if they don't have a stable place to live," Crouse emphasized.

But she noted the expanded Child Tax Credit will likely lift more than 140,000 North Carolina children out of poverty.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, explained both state and federal Child Tax Credit programs are critical to eliminating structural inequities in the tax code.

"We are excited and grateful that lawmakers passed the expansion, and we're calling on them to make that expansion permanent," Boissiere urged. "We'd like to ensure that we don't have the largest-ever one-year reduction in the number of children who live in poverty, followed immediately by the largest-ever one-year increase."

She added more than half of Black children have historically been ineligible for the full Child Tax Credit because their household incomes are too low, compared with 25% of white children.

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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