The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2020 Kids Count Data Book this summer, in which it detailed the well-being of children throughout the United States. Overall, the data showed positive trends with more parents economically secure, more teens graduating from college and more children of all ages covered by insurance. In Pennsylvania which ranked 20th in the country for child well-being, the data showed fewer children in poverty and fewer households with a high cost of living burden, for example.
However, it is important to note that this data was pulled from 2018, and even if it had been true for 2020 prior to the pandemic, the trends likely aren’t as positive now. COVID-19 has impacted all facets of life but particularly (outside of physical health) employment and income. In Pennsylvania alone, nearly 2 million new unemployment claims have been filed since March 15. Without steady employment, other aspects of well-being are affected as well, such as insurance coverage, the cost of living burden and education. Even with safety nets, such as CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), the process of applying and obtaining coverage after losing private insurance could result in a gap - a potentially costly gap during a pandemic.
With that in mind, what should the takeaways be from the Kids Count Data Book? The data is still relevant. It shows that as a state and a country we are making progress in promoting and maintaining children’s well-being, while also highlighting areas that need to be worked on. And it demonstrates the holistic nature of well-being. It’s not just physical health but rather a host of different parts of life that make up the well-being of one person.
Thinking, then, of COVID-19, we can look at the data book as a guide to what we need to focus on and help rebuild during and after the pandemic. Like all of us, children have been affected by COVID-19, and it is a part of our job - as community members and adults - to help mitigate the impact.