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Report: Nebraska's Families of Color Hit Hardest by Pandemic

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021   

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Nebraska as a whole is performing well for families with children, ranked seventh in the nation overall, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's 2021 Kids Count Data Book.

Families reported lower rates of food and housing insecurity and lack of health insurance than the national average.

Alfonso Vaca-Lubischer, research coordinator at Voices for Children in Nebraska, pointed out, however, rates for these indicators among Nebraska's families of color were among the worst in the nation.

"When it comes to, for example, African American families, we see that during the pandemic they were among the states that ranked last or almost dead last when it came to food insecurity or housing insecurity," Vaca-Lubischer observed.

He said simply returning to a pre-pandemic level of support for children and families would shortchange millions of kids across the nation, and fail to address persistent racial and ethnic disparities.

As policymakers look for ways to help rebuild the state's economy and get Nebraska's families safely back on their feet, Vaca-Lubischer argued solutions should be targeted to those families who have experienced the most harm.

The report suggested policymakers have an opportunity to repair damage caused by the COVID-19 health emergency and also address longstanding inequities.

Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, said permanently expanding the Child Tax Credit would provide families with children younger than six, $300 a month, and can reduce long-standing disparities affecting millions of families of color.

"At a time when families are concerned with being able to pay their mortgage, or to pay their rent, it's a significant amount," Boissiere explained. "It's expected to raise as many as half of children who are currently living below the poverty line to living above the poverty line."

During the pandemic, 17% of Nebraska households with children had little or no confidence in their ability to pay their next rent or mortgage payment, but by March of this year, that number dropped to 12%, suggesting the economy is beginning to recover.

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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