BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Most Black and Hispanic children in Maryland lived in homes that were dealing with financial hardship even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a report from the United Way of Central Maryland and its research partner shows.

The report, prepared by the United Way and United For Alice, found that 61% of Black children and 68% of Hispanic children in 2019 were living in households that struggled to meet basic needs. By comparison, 31% of white children lived in similar conditions.

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Besides finding that financial hardship disproportionately affects minorities, the report also found that the guidelines the government uses to determine poverty to assess if families qualify for aid overlooks children who lack financial security.

For instance, the report says, 12% of Maryland children were living in poverty in 2019. Yet 35%, or nearly three times as many, come from homes that are considered ALICE (or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed).

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As the report notes, the income for ALICE households is above the federal poverty line but below the income level needed to cover basic expenses, such as the cost of housing, child care, transportation, health care and a smartphone plan.

Among other things, the report noted that 23% of Maryland children in 2019 lived in households that could not afford necessities, despite having two working adults. It also found roughly 185,920 children lived in homes without high-speed internet.

“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said Dr. Stephanie Hoopes, national director for United for ALICE. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”

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To learn more about the research, visit United For ALICE’s website.

CBS Baltimore Staff