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Report: Crisis Weighs Heavily on SD Households with Kids

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Wednesday, December 16, 2020   

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - The economic fallout from the pandemic is evident in a new report on the struggles of households with children. The findings reveal that some South Dakota families are finding it increasingly harder to meet basic needs.

This week's report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation pulled data from all states, using weekly census surveys to get a better sense of what families are experiencing. In South Dakota, one in eight reports not having enough food to eat, while one in nine is worried about paying the rent or mortgage on time.

Nationally, said Leslie Boissiere, vice president for external affairs at the Casey Foundation, the numbers are higher for families of color.

"The pandemic has laid bare and really exacerbated racial and ethnic inequities in this country," she said, "and we've seen that Black, Latino and Native communities in particular have been hard hit."

The findings also shed light on the anxiety families are feeling right now. In South Dakota, 14% described feeling "down, depressed or hopeless" in recent weeks. The report recommended instituting policies at all levels of government that promote greater racial equity and prioritize helping children and families cope with the pandemic.

Xanna Burg, who oversees the Kids Count program for North and South Dakota and Montana, said she thinks all the results are alarming. She added that the mental-health responses especially are troubling, given the fears about the long-term impact on children.

"Children must often receive mental-health services at school," she said, "but South Dakota school counselors serve about 150 more kids than recommended."

She said this should prompt South Dakota lawmakers to prioritize more funding for school counselors as students try to cope with the added pressures facing their families. Other groups, such as the South Dakota Education Association, have made similar requests in recent months.

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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