A young girl with a line art graphic of a yellow shirt and blue mask.

Save the Children’s 2021 Childhood Report, Childhood in the Time of COVID, includes the first-ever state ranking showing where U.S. kids are faring best and worst during the pandemic. The new COVID Child Protection Ranking examines three factors making it more difficult for America’s kids during COVID: hunger, lack of tools for remote learning, and difficulty for their families to pay bills. Go to SavetheChildren.org/Childhood to learn more.

How COVID-19 has put children’s futures at risk across America

6 Million More U.S. Children Hungry during the Pandemic, 1 in 4 Lack Tools Needed for Remote Learning

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (March 2, 2021) – At the one-year mark of nationwide school closures due to COVID-19, Save the Children today released the first-ever state ranking showing where U.S. kids are faring best and worst during the pandemic. The new COVID Child Protection Ranking, released as part of Save the Children’s fifth annual Childhood Reportranks all 50 states and examines three factors making it increasingly challenging for America’s kids during COVID: hunger, lack of tools for remote learning, and difficulty for their families to pay bills.

Analyzing 4-months of U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse surveys through the end of 2020, the new research reveals wide equity gaps along geographic, income and racial/ethnic lines. Children who are poor, live in rural areas and from communities of color are more likely to go hungry and lack access to remote learning tools.

Kids have fared best in Minnesota, Utah, Washington, New Hampshire and North Dakota, while kids in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, New Mexico and Alabama are hurting the most, according to the findings.

“This report uncovers a devastating reality across America during the time of COVID: childhood is in crisis as millions and millions more kids are now hungry, missing out on learning, and forced into poverty,” said Janti Soeripto, President & CEO of Save the Children. “Save the Children is committed to making sure every child has the equal opportunity to thrive in childhood and pursue a bright future.”

Families are suffering in every state and at every income level, but the poorest families are struggling the most. Children in Black and Hispanic families have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Their families are twice as likely as white families to go hungry and struggle with housing costs, and more likely to lack the tools needed for remote learning.

States topping the COVID Child Protection Ranking are not necessarily the ones with the lowest COVID case rates, but rather those with resources and protections in place for children and families. Utah, North Dakota and South Dakota have had some of the highest COVID case rates in the country, yet they all scored in the top 10. Conversely, New York and West Virginia have had relatively low rates of the disease, yet much more suffering among children and families, compared to other states.

The report, titled Childhood in the Time of COVID, also found that:

  • There are an estimated 17 million hungry children now in America – 6 million more than before the pandemic – and hunger in households with children is up by almost two-thirds.
  • Nationwide, two-thirds of U.S. families are having difficulty making ends meet – and the number of households with children that had trouble paying bills doubled in 2020.
  • At least 1 in 4 children does not always have the tools they need for distance learning. 
  • Many months of learning have already been lost – and if this continues, students of color stand to lose 11- 12 months of learning by the end of the school year, compared to 7-8 months for white students.

“Far too many children in America are faced with disadvantages that have been magnified by COVID-19. We know kids need full bellies and minds to succeed in school and life,” said Betsy Zorio, Vice President of Save the Children’s U.S. Programs and Advocacy. “Policymakers at all levels of government – from the President down to local school administrators – need to adequately invest in programs and services that protect America’s kids. We must act now to ensure our children, and future generations, have the childhood they deserve.”

To download and read the full report – and access an interactive map with the COVID Child Protection Ranking – visit SavetheChildren.org/Childhood

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


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