As the cut-off date for the extra pandemic unemployment payments looms, nearly 70 percent of parents said that their families are struggling financially because of the effects of the coronavirus crisis.

By Libby Ryan
July 15, 2020
Brothers91/Getty Images
| Credit: Brothers91/Getty Images

The now cliche term "unprecedented times" doesn't begin to cover the experiences of many American families since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic—especially the financial toll of countrywide safety shutdowns and continued social-distancing. These measures saved lives, but they also cost many parents income, putting many families in precarious financial positions. If you're worried about making ends meet because of COVID-19, you're not alone.

A new survey from national parenting organization ParentsTogether, which polled 1,500 parents, found 70 percent of families are struggling as of July—more than four months into the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people lost their full- or part-time jobs across the country, and with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act running out at the end of the month, many families are wondering what comes next.

The main reason for the financial struggles? The lack of child care. In fact, 44 percent of parents said the reason they lost income was that they had to care for their children at home and couldn't go to work.

More than 70 percent of families say that unless Congress extends the benefits of the CARES Act, they may not be able to afford basic necessities such as food, bills, and housing costs. About 30 percent of families say they are imminently worried about covering these expenses. Another 30 percent say they worry about those costs within the next month. And almost half of the families (45 percent) say they are worried about losing their homes.

“When families struggle, kids pay the price and right now, families are drowning—and the reopenings haven’t helped,” Justin Ruben, co-director of ParentsTogether, said in a press release. “Unless Congress acts immediately, things will only get worse as the extra unemployment checks stop, and evictions start."

Currently, benefits from the CARES Act, including $600 weekly federal unemployment payments, are set to expire around July 31. That means parents who are out of work will again rely solely on unemployment benefit amounts that vary from state to state.

In May, the House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act, which would include another stimulus payment to many Americans earning less than $75,000 a year and would also extend the additional $600 weekly unemployment benefit until January. But the House (which is majority Democratic) bill has yet to pass the Republican-controlled Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump have both said they don't support the legislation. But McConnell has said he does support another round of stimulus checks but an alternative plan has not been announced.

So families left out of work or desperately trying to find child care in order to return to work (in conditions that put workers at risk of contracting COVID-19, let's not forget), are still in limbo.

As Ruben said, "To protect kids, Congress needs to provide ongoing economic relief, a pause in evictions, and solutions to the child care crisis.”

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