CHN’s Human Needs Watch: Tracking Hardship, November 3, 2023


November 3, 2023

November 3, 2023 

The earliest years edition. During the pandemic, policymakers worked, often in historic ways, to protect and elevate the well-being of children. A temporary expansion of the Child Tax Credit slashed the nation’s child poverty rate more than ever before. New laws and regulations made it easier to access nutrition assistance, including school meals even when school was not in session. No one was allowed to be kicked off Medicaid, ensuring that children (along with adults) had continuous access to health care. Emergency rental assistance and a federal ban on evictions kept families housed. Billions of dollars went to shore up the child care industry, and more money was allocated for early childhood education programs such as Head Start. 

Our children did not exactly thrive during the pandemic, but things could have been so much worse. 

Now it seems as if we have forgotten all that we learned. In both direct and indirect ways, our children are under attack. The direct attacks come in the form of proposals to radically cut spending on Head Start and failure to provide the necessary funding for WIC. Indirect attacks come in the form of not recognizing the need to replace pandemic era supports – for example, millions of children already have been dropped from Medicaid (and cut so rapidly that many are likely still to be eligible),  and billions of dollars in support for child care have lapsed, with no replacement offered (the Biden Administration and some in Congress have called for additional child care funding, but it has yet to materialize). 

As you will see in this newsletter, children find themselves at the center of so many threats – the threat of eviction, of loss of access to nutrition assistance and health care, of not being able to take advantage of all that quality early childhood education has to offer. Overall, as our friends at First Focus on Children remind us, the percentage of federal dollars spent on children has fallen to its lowest point since 2019, during the Trump Administration. 

We can, and must, do better. For starters, please contact your representative and senators and tell them to prioritize investments in the early years by funding WIC nutrition assistance for families with young children. 


Federal spending on children accounts for 9.89% of total expenditures during the current fiscal year, down nearly 16% from the previous year. The level of spending on children has fallen nearly to what it was during the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Tweet this.


4 in 10


In the 20 states reporting age breakouts, children represented roughly four in ten (39%) of people losing Medicaid coverage as states determine eligibility, a process referred to as “Medicaid unwinding.” As of November 1, at least 1.8 million children had been cut off from Medicaid out of a total of 4.8 million disenrollees in the 20 states that report age breakouts. Tweet this.


4.7 million

Under both House and Senate spending bills, an estimated 600,000 eligible postpartum adults and young children would be turned away from WIC benefits. A House measure would go much further, cutting benefits for an additional 4.7 million pregnant and postpartum participants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Black and Latino families would be disproportionately harmed because they are more likely to receive WIC than families of other races and ethnicities. Tweet this.



Parents’ average monthly child care payment is up 32% from 2019, according to new Bank of America Institute data. Tweet this.



The national average annual cost for child care was $10,853 in 2022, the most recent data available from Child Care Aware. That’s more than families with 2 children in center-based care spent on rent in all states. Tweet this.


40%/2.9 million 

Each year, roughly 7.6 million Americans face the threat of eviction. A disturbing new study released by the Eviction Lab found that about 40% of these 7.6 million people are children – 2.9 million children in all.



That same study found that despite making up only 18.6% of all renters, Black renters account for 51.1% of those affected by eviction filings and 43.4% of those evicted. Roughly one in five Blacks living in a renter household is threatened with eviction each year, and one in ten is actually evicted. This disparity is much greater than previously thought.



Under a House spending proposal, an estimated 40,000 fewer families would receive assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher program, which helps families with low incomes afford a home of their choice in the private market. This cut would increase the likelihood of homelessness, overcrowding, evictions, and other housing instability.



80,000 preschoolers would be turned away from Head Start under a proposed House spending bill, according to the National Head Start Association.




According to a survey of providers, 20% of Head Start and early Head Start classrooms were closed in early 2023, and 19% of staff positions remained unfilled. Most survey providers cited low pay as the reason. There were an estimated 137,000 to 275,000 children on Head Start waiting lists. This represents 17% to 33% of currently funded slots.