CLEVELAND — New data shows we have a long way to go in helping communities across Ohio bounce back, especially when it comes to children.
According to the group, Save the Children, Ohio ranks number 31 out of 50 states in regard to the quality-of-life kids have right now because of COVID. The group used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly household surveys.
The report reads, “the best states for children during the pandemic are Minnesota, Utah, Washington and New Hampshire. The worst states for children are Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and New Mexico.”
Based on the report, 17 million children face hunger today including the six million more added because of the pandemic. In addition, at least one in four children don’t have the tools they need for remote learning while 69% of families nationwide are having a hard time making ends meet.
“Children who are poor, children who live in rural areas and children from communities of color appear to be faring worst through the pandemic. They are more likely to be food insecure, are disproportionately affected by the digital divide and are likely to experience the greatest learning loss,” the report reads. “Their families are more likely to become sick with and die from COVID, to be affected by job and income losses, to be struggling with housing costs, and/or to have fewer childcare options. As a result, childhood equity gaps are likely to grow.”
Disparities among children and families
Children of color are twice as likely as white kids to face hunger. Black and Hispanic children are about 1.5 times as likely as white kids to lack remote-learning tools. In addition, two-thirds of Black and Hispanic families report losing employment income.
Children of color are twice as likely as white children to face hunger. Twenty-eight percent of Black families and 25% of Hispanic families said they sometimes or often don’t have enough food to eat, compared to 13% of white families,” the report states. “Child poverty decreased in the early months of the pandemic because of stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits, but it rose by 2.6 million between June and December 2020 – the fastest increase in history.”
A Closer look at Ohio
Ohio appears to be moderate when it comes to its childhood equity gap. However, other rankings aren’t too great.
Here’s the breakdown out of 50 states:
Infant hunger – 41/50
Child hunger – 37/50
High school dropouts – 28/50
Teen pregnancy – 30/50
Child homicides – 34/50
With 88 Ohio counties, Ashtabula (78), Richland (65), Hamilton (68) and Cuyahoga (72) counties in Northeast Ohio rank among some of the lowest in the state when it comes to child protection and their well-being. Medina (4) and Sandusky (19) rank among the highest.
In Cuyahoga County, 21.5% of children ages 0-18 face hunger or food insecurity and 26.6% of them live in poverty. The report notes counties at or above 30% are considered high-poverty counties.
Our national county ranking – even grimmer – coming in at number 1,850.
The group says going back to normal will not cut it. Instead, massive investments are needed to help kids recover and catch up. Some members from Save the Children have been advocating for President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to pass. The bill lays out a 15% increase in SNAP benefits for families and other aid with hunger.