United Way of West Florida has released its latest ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) report. The statistics are from 2019 – before the COVID-19 pandemic, and they show that
the majority of children in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties lived in households that couldn’t afford the basics in 2019.
ALICE in Focus: Children also reveals the disproportionate impact of financial hardship on the community’s Black and Hispanic children – 66% and 69% respectively. The report finds traditional measures of poverty have severely undercounted the number of children of all races ages 18 and younger in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties who are growing up in financially insecure households.
While 16% of all children in the state were deemed in poverty in 2019, the report shows that 37% – more than twice as many – lived in families defined as ALICE– households that earn more than the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it costs to live and work in the modern economy.
Combined, 53% of children in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties lived in households below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, childcare, health care, transportation, and a smartphone plan.
“Undercounting the number of children who are at risk can have lifelong consequences,” said Laura Gilliam, United Way of West Florida President and CEO. “Thousands of children are locked out of receiving critical supports for stable housing, food, and quality education, all of which can inhibit healthy child development.”
Because ALICE households often earn too much to qualify for public assistance, the report finds that more than 37,000 at-risk children didn’t access the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.
Other findings from ALICE in Focus: Children include:
• Having two working parents didn’t guarantee financial stability: Among households with two working adults, 27% of Escambia and Santa Rosa County children were living in families whose income didn’t meet the cost of basic needs in 2019.
• Of the nearly 17,000 households with a child living in a home with a grandparent, 76% are below the ALICE Threshold.
• Nearly 13,000 children in households earning below the ALICE Threshold had no high-speed internet access at home.
“Having accurate, complete data is the foundation for designing equitable solutions,” said United For ALICE National Director Stephanie Hoopes, Ph.D. “COVID-19 hit ALICE families so much harder than others because they struggle to build savings yet often don’t qualify for financial assistance.”
More data is available through the ALICE in Focus: Children interactive data dashboard – which provides filters for regional and local geographies, age, race, disability status, living arrangements, and household work status. Visit UnitedForALICE.org/Focus-Children.
United Way of Florida is hosting an online panel discussion about the ALICE in Focus: Children report on Tuesday, April 19 at 8 a.m. Attendees will learn more about how the report impacts Florida’s children and what United Way is doing with the research. You can register for the event at uwwf.org/alicepanel.