Equity & Diversity

Coronavirus-Era Financial Pressures Weigh Heavy on Families With Children

By Arianna Prothero — October 02, 2020 1 min read
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A majority of families—61 percent—are under severe financial strain as the pandemic wears on, according to a new survey by Harvard’s school of public health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and NPR.

Large shares of families are also reporting that they are struggling with child care and supporting their kids’ educations.

The findings illuminate the degree to which children’s homelives are being affected by the COVID-19 crisis and the recession it brought on—challenges that will have significant ramifications for schools as they try to meet students’ educational, social, and emotional needs.

Among households with children that earn less than $100,000 a year, the share reporting that they are facing serious financial problems jumps to nearly three-quarters.

Sixty percent of households with children say their families have suffered a loss of jobs or wages—such as furloughs or pay cuts.

Forty-four percent of all respondents say they have run through all or most of their savings since the pandemic began, while 11 percent say they didn’t have any household savings even before the pandemic started.

The numbers are especially stark for Latino families where 86 percent say they are facing major financial issues, such as having trouble paying off debt, making mortgage or rent payments, or affording utilities. Sixty-six percent of Black families and 51 percent of white families report the same.

Nearly a quarter of families say they are having serious problems affording food.

Furthermore, nearly 60 percent of households with children say they are majorly struggling with care for their kids with more than 1 in 3 saying they can’t keep up with their children’s education.

One in three families also report having significant issues with connecting to the internet.

The survey was conducted between July 1 and Aug. 3 this year online and by phone among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults living in households with children under 18.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.


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