Missouri families face added pressure to meet basic needs

Child sitting on window sill (Children)

The ability to meet basic needs is out-of-reach for many Missouri families because of the pandemic. The challenges facing households with children are detailed in a new national report.

This week, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released findings for all states, using weekly Census survey data on such topics as food insecurity and housing instability.  One in seven Missouri families reports not having enough food to eat, while one in six worries about making their next rent or mortgage payment.

The Casey Foundation’s Vice President for External Affairs Leslie Boissiere said it’s a warning to policymakers – to get back to the basics of providing help for families living on the margins.  “All Children, in good times and in bad, should have their basic needs met,” said Boissiere. “Children should not be hungry. They should have safe, secure housing. They should have access to quality education. Parents should have access to childcare so that they can work to support those families. “

The report also sheds a light on the anxiety felt by struggling families. Some 22% of Missouri households with children said they felt “down, depressed or hopeless” in recent weeks. Nationally, the findings also amplify racial gaps for parents and children trying to survive the crisis.

In Columbia, Jennifer Roberts organized CoMO Lunch Clubs – a group of volunteers who deliver free lunches to qualifying students doing distance learning.  Recipients have found it hard to pick up the meals, prompting volunteers to help out. Roberts said it’s revealed some families who’ve never sought aid before now.  “These parents, you know, that maybe never had to worry about grocery bills before,” said Roberts, “they’ve had their hours cut, or their shifts cut.”  She added that parents, especially mothers, have had to leave their jobs to ensure their children are getting the learning support they need.

Public policy experts say that’s another factor contributing to the income loss for households with children in the battered economy. The full report can be found on the website of the Missouri KIDS Count, a program of the Family and Community Trust.


Photo courtesy Missouri News Service