Briefing for November 22-26, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

Briefing for November 22-26, 2021 on COVID-19 and Low-Income Communities

We are struck that one of the few certainties about the coronavirus outbreak is that low-income communities and workers in low-income, service sector occupations will be disproportionately impacted — likely in devastating fashion.

One step in combatting this will be to share information about what is happening and what can be done. That’s why we are offering a news service summarizing relevant stories, which you can read below. As of September 13th, the team has switched this effort from a daily format to publishing every Monday.

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Briefing for November 22, 2021

Child care — the most broken business in America: Writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Claire Sudduth examines the daunting economic hurdles faced by child care providers and families who need the service. “Child care in the U.S. is the rare example of an almost entirely private market in which the service offered is too expensive for both consumers and the businesses that provide it. This reality is reflected in two alarming facts: In most states, putting a baby in a licensed child-care facility costs more than in-state college tuition, yet the people who provide that care make an average of about $24,000 a year, less than a fast-food worker or janitor, even though 87% of them have some form of higher education. Every year a quarter of the industry’s workers leave. All this adds up to an exceptionally precarious business model; according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the typical child-care center’s profit margin is only 1%. ‘The free market works well in many different sectors, but child care is not one of them,’ Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in September. Louise Stoney, a child-care financial consultant who works with state and local governments, puts it more bluntly: ‘This is an industry that literally can’t generate enough money to survive.’” 

Lack of paid leave creates terrible trickle down for southern families: Rainesford Stauffer writes for Jezebel: “Schools are at the epicenter of local and state political choices on COVID-19 protocols — and how they impact families. Inaccessibility and inequity issues in education aren’t new to the pandemic — nor is the fact that families and students’ lives are shaped by education policies. The South has been ground zero throughout the pandemic in terms of COVID-19 outbreaks, deaths, and political ineptitude to help folks survive these times. Nearly a dozen interviews with kids and parents in Florida, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Texas emphasize a need to fundamentally rethink much of education, including the myth that schools operate separately from other aspects of a student’s life. Centering students and families in the South is necessary to unpacking the intersection of work, child care, paid leave, health care, and school policies that define not just the experiences students have at school, but at home, too. All at once, it’s an education crisis, a public health crisis, a labor crisis, and a child care crisis — underscoring systemic gaps in care, support, and resources. And amid all the noise, the children and teenagers get drowned out, despite being the ones who live out the consequences of decisions adults are making about their well-being, and the real-time hardships disrupted school years create for them.” 

A win for Black maternal health as Congress moves to set up new VA program: From STAT: “Proponents of addressing America’s Black maternal mortality crisis scored a win last week as Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation to set up a $15 million maternal care program within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is the first bill in the Black Maternal Health Momnibus to make it through Congress and now awaits President Biden’s signature. The ‘Momnibus’ is a collection of a dozen bills aimed at eliminating the health care inequities that Black women and birthing people face. Black women in the U.S. are three times more likely to die during childbirth than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many Americans, that statistic is personal. Like for Charles Johnson, who lost his wife, Kira, during a routine scheduled cesarean section on April 12, 2016. ‘We walked into Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles for what we expected to be the happiest day of our lives and walked straight into a nightmare,’ he said on Tuesday at the 2021 STAT Summit as he retold the harrowing tale of his wife’s final moments.” 

Most states ranked poorly in quality of care for people of color, study finds: Axios reports: “Black Americans in almost every state were more likely than white Americans to die from preventable and treatable health conditions, a new report from the Commonwealth Fund out Thursday shows. Within most states, white populations received better care overall compared with Black, Latinx/Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian people. The report analyzed dozens of factors of health care systems in every state and Washington, D.C., between 2019 and 2020, which showed even states that had higher scores overall had disparities. Only six states had an above-average performance for all racial and ethnic groups — Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, and Oregon. The report pointed out states like Minnesota and Wisconsin that performed strongly in previous findings from the Commonwealth Fund but had some of the largest racial inequities. ‘If we want to get the pandemic under control and mitigate these inequities, we need to dismantle the racist policies and practices that have led us here,’ Commonwealth Fund president David Blumenthal said in a statement.” 

Study: CTC payments are helping improve family well-being: A new survey from the Center for Law and Social Policy finds: “Parents reported that the monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC) advance payments have reduced financial stress, helped them to afford necessities and, for about one-quarter of respondents receiving monthly payments, work more hours outside of the home, according to a new national survey. The survey also found that, as of October when the survey was conducted, about two-thirds of parents with incomes below $75,000 reported receiving monthly CTC payments, though there are gaps in CTC receipt among certain demographic groups, including Hispanic respondents. The survey of a nationally representative sample of eligible families asked parents questions about (1) tax filing behavior, (2) receipt of the monthly CTC payments, (3) how the monthly payments have impacted their family, and (4) how families are hearing about the CTC.”

New study finds families use cash benefits to help children: The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a massive national experiment in the more widespread of unrestricted cash benefits — a practice some have contended would result in families using the aid for non-essential goods and services. While researchers gather data to analyze how families spent their COVID aid, a newly published study by Washington State University sociologist Mariana Amorim finds that in Alaska, lower-income parents are more likely to spend money they receive through the Alaska Permanent Fund on their children. Amorim discussed the study recently with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

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