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MORE THAN A HEALTH CRISIS: LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON CONNECTICUT YOUTH AND FAMILIES

Source: Connecticut Voices for Children

Complete report

Even before the pandemic reached Connecticut in 2020, families were struggling to meet their needs.
-Twenty percent of Connecticut children’s families received public assistance in 2019.
– Fourteen percent ofConnecticut children lived at or below the federal poverty line.
– Thirty-four percent of Connecticut childrenin 2019 lived in households with a high housing cost
burden, where more than 30 percent of monthly pretax income is spent on housing-related expenses.

Today, high unemployment among parents, without
the necessary aid or savings to offset income losses,
has only helped to contribute to increased hardship
for households with children, which in turn “may
affect the well-being and development of today’s
children well into the future.”

The United States’ and Connecticut’s historic and
ongoing systemic racial disparities have persisted
into the current pandemic; in fact, the pandemic has
exacerbated these disparities. For example, in 2019,
five percent of white children in Connecticut lived
in poverty, but that number jumps up to 27 percent
for Black children and 29 percent for Hispanic
children. While 23 percent of white children lived
in households with high housing cost burdens in
2019, that number was more than double for Black
and Hispanic children to 54 percent and 50 percent,
respectively. The vulnerabilities of Connecticut’s
Black and Latinx children are reflected in the
vulnerability of America’s Black and Brown
communities throughout the pandemic. The health
impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately been
harming communities of color. This is partially due
to the fact that the essential employees that keep the
state running while others quarantined at home are
more likely to be people of color.

In order for Connecticut’s children, young adults,
and families to not only weather the pandemic, but
to thrive afterwards, it is necessary for them to be
able to achieve health, employment, and stability.
COVID-19’s impact on the economy, education, and
access to basic needs, like food and housing, has
greatly shaken the ability of many of Connecticut’s
households to find security.

In order to understand
the severity of the issues facing Connecticut’s
youth and families, this report primarily looks at
the weekly Household Pulse Surveys conducted by
the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census Household
Pulse Survey (CHPS) asked households to report
on a variety of questions related to employment,
housing, education, and health. This report explores
the responses to these questions as these indicators
can have long-term ramifications on the earnings and
economic stability of children, youth, and families.

We look at the survey data collected between August
19, 2020 and March 1, 2021. Because the Census
Bureau survey is an experimental response to the
novel pandemic, and its results are best interpreted
by looking at data collected over a period of time
and comparing it with national trends. Using these
data, this report aims to identify the areas in which
Connecticut’s children, families, and young adults
struggled during the last six months. Specifically
due to Connecticut’s growing population of youth
and families of color,14, 15 and there being stark racial
disparities in reported COVID-19 cases, this report
examines disparities in how households of color
fared during the pandemic.

Connecticut thrives when its youth and families
are healthy and secure. The State must act now to
ensure that youth and families’ needs are met during
the pandemic and beyond, so that they are ready
and able to fully return to their work and education
when the state’s institutions completely reopen.
Otherwise, we potentially risk another decade of
Connecticut experiencing high unemployment, low
wage growth, and some of the slowest economic
growth in the country. To help ensure the well-being
and prosperity of Connecticut’s youth and families,
Connecticut must intentionally act to address the
pitfalls and inequities that have been exacerbated by
this unprecedented health crisis. This report offers
recommendations to Connecticut policymakers in
order to achieve this goal.