Louisiana ranks as the worst state for children during the Covid-19 pandemic, Save the Children says

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc for families across the US, as school closures and social distancing have made it difficult to provide for kids. But in Louisiana, families are faring worse than in any other state, according to Save the Children.

The global non-profit dedicated to protecting children examined three hardships affecting kids right now — hunger, lack of tools for remote learning, and families’ difficulty paying bills. The organization then ranked all 50 states based on how well the kids are doing. And in Louisiana, families are hurting the most, the organization says in a new report.

“(Louisiana) ranks last on hunger and tools for remote learning and in the bottom 5 on difficulty paying bills,” the report stated. Twenty-five percent “of families do not have enough to eat, 25% usually do not have access to the internet or a digital device for educational purposes and 50% are struggling to pay for household expenses.”

Most of the Southeast parts of the Southwest — New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida — all ranked at the bottom, along with New York state. The states that rank at the top, where children are most protected, are Minnesota and Utah, with Washington, New Hampshire and the Dakotas close behind.

“Children who are poor, children who live in rural areas and children from communities of color appear to be faring worst through the pandemic,” the report read. “They are more likely to be food insecure, are disproportionately affected by the digital divide and are likely to experience the greatest learning loss. Their families are more likely to become sick with and die from COVID, to be affected by job and income losses, to be struggling with housing costs, and/or to have fewer child care options. As a result, childhood equity gaps are likely to grow.”

The report comes just six months after Hurricane Laura devastated Louisiana, leaving parts of the state without power for over a month. The state also has the second-highest poverty rate in the country, at 19%, according to the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

To address ongoing disparities worsened by the pandemic, Save the Children called for more funding to support child care and combat child hunger, but noted that these issues won’t go away when the vaccine is distributed.

“The additional benefits and supports for these children and families will need to be made permanent until all children have access to the food they need,” they said.