• Staff

New story map tool will track effect of pandemic on kids

By Suzanne Potter

Courtesy of Public News Service

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A new online mapping tool being released today will help families and policymakers track the impact of the pandemic on children.

The site, from Missouri Kids Count, maps out county stats on child population, food insecurity, SNAP food benefits, child abuse and visits to the Emergency Room for asthma attacks.

New Madrid County has the highest rate of food insecurity in Missouri, at more than 17%, data that is exacerbated by the closure of schools. (Nevada Department of Agriculture)

Tracy Greever-Rice, program director for Missouri Kids Count, says the story map will help measure changes going forward.

“It’s laying a baseline, and as time goes by we’ll update it to see the actual impact of the pandemic,” Greever-Rice said. “And the indicators that we include in it are ones that we know of are predictive of poor outcomes for kids.”

The pandemic poses a threat to kids’ physical health and undermines their well-being as their parents lose jobs during the lockdown. So the story map uses a rise in need for SNAP benefits as a real-time measurement of poverty brought on as the economy ground to a halt.

Greever-Rice said asthma ER visits are linked to poor outcomes for patients with COVID-19.

“We’re also looking at asthma ER visits as an indicator that kids aren’t getting treatment for their chronic condition because people can’t be visiting the health-care system for non-COVID things right now,” she said.

The story map tool was developed by Missouri Kids Count, which is part of the Family and Community Trust, in partnership with the Missouri Spatial Information Center and the Missouri Census Data Center.

Disclosure: Missouri Kids Count contributes to our fund for reporting on Children’s Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Youth Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, go to https://publicnewsservice.org/dn1.php.

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