Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck North Carolina, 40% of children in our state lived in low-income families struggling with poverty. While the level of unemployment was quite low, many folks have been working in jobs that simply don’t earn enough to raise a family, no matter how hard you try. But in the last three weeks, unemployment filings have broken all previous records with nearly 500,000 claims.
Parents are struggling more than ever with basics like putting food on the table, making sure kids are learning, and coping with the stress of financial uncertainty and social isolation. Safe spaces like school and church are not available to kids anymore. It will be some time before we can report any accurate data about the impacts of this crisis on children and families, but it’s quite clear now that these are very hard times for many of North Carolina’s children.
In three weeks, the North Carolina legislature will begin its first-ever legislative session during a pandemic. We expect that their focus will be entirely on COVID-19. There is much that our state legislators can do to ease unnecessary suffering and help open a wider path forward once the immediate danger is past.
Today NC Child is releasing a legislative agenda focused on COVID-19 response and recovery. We are urging our state legislators to act swiftly on policies that will ensure the well-being of our state’s children and their families and help us all to recover as quickly as possible once the crisis is over.
NC Child’s 2020 legislative agenda focuses on five major areas to help kids come through the COVID-19 pandemic: Child Care, Health Care, Hunger and Nutrition, Technology Infrastructure, and Foster Care.
We developed this agenda with a great deal of help from the members of our Child Advocacy Network – the agencies across the state dedicated to serving children and their families. In the weeks ahead, the most important component of this agenda will be your voice. Make sure your legislators understand how COVID-19 is affecting children and families in your community – their home districts – and what they can do to help.
Your Voice is Crucial
Contact your state representative and senator today (you can look them up here if you don’t already know them). Ask them what they are doing to make sure that every family in North Carolina has the health coverage they need in a pandemic. Ask them how they will ensure that there is childcare ready to serve North Carolina’s families when we’re all able to go back to work. Ask them how they’re doing. Most importantly, ask them what information they need from you to do their job as elected leaders well. Your expertise on children and families is so important right now.
If you don’t already receive our legislative updates, sign up here. We’ll continue to keep you up to speed on how our state and federal officials are responding to this crisis, and what it means for kids. Thank you for speaking up together during this extraordinary time.
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