Data reported this week from the Urban Institute Health Reform Monitoring Survey reveal that more than four in 10 parents reported job and income losses in late March and early April, but these losses were most prevalent among lower-income and black and Hispanic parents.
Based on the responses of 9,032 adults who participated in the March/April survey, more than four in 10 parents of children younger than 19 reported they or a family member lost a job, had work hours reduced, or had a cut in work-related income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When stratified by income, one or more of these outcomes was reported by 53.1 percent of parents with incomes below 250 percent of the federal poverty level compared with 33.5 percent of parents with family incomes above 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Based on race/ethnicity, one or more of these negative outcomes was reported by 62.2 percent of Hispanic parents, 49.7 percent of non-Hispanic black parents, and 36.5 percent of non-Hispanic white parents.
Low-income parents reported being less likely to work from home and reported greater difficulty in arranging child care compared with higher-income parents. A similar finding was seen for Hispanic parents, who were less likely to work from home and reported greater difficulty finding child care versus non-Hispanic white parents. To cope with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents reported cutting back spending on food, reducing savings and increasing debt. Overall, more than one-third had problems paying for housing, utility, food or medical costs in the previous month; this rose to about half among low-income and black and Hispanic parents.
"Ensuring children's home environments remain as stable as possible and that their educational, nutritional, physical and mental health needs are met will be paramount to helping families and communities weather the current crisis and to minimizing adverse economic, health and emotional effects on children," the researchers wrote in the report.