ParentsTogether’s 2021 Emergency Survival Plan for Families

What Families Need To Thrive

Pushed to the Breaking Point

In 2020, families across the United States experienced unimaginable hardship. The coronavirus pandemic forced millions out of work and the majority of children out of in-person school or daycare. By the end of the year, many families had reached both financial and emotional breaking points. In December, three quarters of ParentsTogether members reported they were struggling. 57% told us they were trading off between paying for basics like rent, utilities, health care, and food due to loss of income. Also last month, nearly 26 million people — almost 12% of all Americans, including millions of children — reported not having enough to eat over the past week.

Food insecurity and the lasting health impacts of COVID-19, mixed with anxiety, grief, and social isolation, are contributing to a public health crisis — both physical and mental — that will have long-term consequences for adults and kids across the country. To make matters worse, schools, childcare centers, and state governments are having to make deep cuts, making it even harder for them to meet the growing needs of families. 

These overlapping crises will only deepen if emergency action isn’t taken to provide relief, focusing especially on those communities that have been hardest hit by the pandemic. ParentsTogether urges the U.S. government to act without delay to fix a system that was already broken for millions of families struggling to survive

What Parents Say They Need Most

ParentsTogether surveyed its 2.5 million person membership on the policies that would most help them right now. The results were clear: 56% of families with children under 18 said their greatest concern was paying for essentials like rent, food, utilities, and medication. 

When asked what relief measures they most need, parents ranked the following as their top priorities:

  1. Economic aid, including ongoing stimulus payments. 
  2. Food assistance, including universal school meals.  
  3. Free or more inexpensive healthcare, including mental health support. 
  4. Emergency funding for schools. 

They also made it clear that, given the multiple, overlapping crises their families face — and the particular challenges affecting different families — a suite of measures are urgently needed.

The Solution: A 2021 Emergency Survival Plan for Families

Based on these surveys, interviews, and other feedback from tens of thousands of families across the country, ParentsTogether calls on President Biden and the new Congress to enact the following five-point Emergency Survival Plan: 

Financial support. Give families ongoing financial support so that every child has a stable home and enough to eat. This should include: 

  • recurring stimulus payments;
  • monthly payments for families with children to help cover costs; 
  • rental assistance and eviction suspension; 
  • increased food assistance, including SNAP expansion and free school meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for all children who need them;
  • expanded unemployment benefits; 
  • a new $15 federal minimum wage and; 
  • ensuring these benefits are available to all families, regardless of immigration status.

Physical and Mental Health. Make sure every child and family has access to healthcare for physical and mental health concerns — including free counseling for every child who needs it.

Schools. Double down on education. Provide emergency funding to help schools reopen safely, address kids’ emotional and academic needs, and support those hit hardest by the challenges of remote learning: children of color, low-income kids, and children with learning challenges.

Child Care. Provide emergency support to childcare centers to make sure all families with babies and young children have safe, affordable care to return to — and pay childcare providers for the valuable work they do.

Paid Leave. Provide parents and other caretakers with paid family and sick leave so that they can afford to stay home when sick and take care of their families when needed, during the pandemic and beyond. 

The President’s Bold Proposal 

After almost a year of being left to weather this crisis alone, the Biden administration’s relief plan is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for families across the United States. 

With substantial stimulus, expanded unemployment insurance, aid for schools and childcare, paid leave, nutrition assistance, rental assistance and protections against eviction — President Biden’s plan directly addresses the dire needs of the country. Congress should pass this plan, adding auto-stabilizers so aid continues until the economy improves. 

The expanded and refundable child tax credit outlined in the plan is another important first step towards the ongoing payments that parents desperately need to survive and ensure that their families thrive. Congress should make sure that this benefit is delivered monthly to the families that need it most. 

Families across the country welcome President Biden’s commitment to helping families through this crisis, and now look to Congress to act with urgency to send relief to millions of families who cannot wait any longer. We urge members of Congress to embrace the priorities outlined in Biden’s plan and expand on them to include policies like universal free school meals and free mental health counseling for all children who need it, and move swiftly to pass a robust relief package that addresses the severity of this crisis.

Giving Families the Final Word

The voices of parents and caretakers from across the country make clear just how urgently relief is needed:

The $600 stimulus was insufficient. Many of us need more to help get back on our feet. We owe it to our children. Our children are our future.

Tiffany, SC

As a single mother of 2, one having autism, the other having another health condition, working is hard due to flexibility. Both children are in therapy more in mid day/ afternoon times which make it difficult to find a job. During the pandemic, I think it would be beneficial if there was a stimulus that was monthly. Having that money, or to some, a little extra, would alleviate a lot of stress and would be helpful.


I am a single mother who is also an Uber driver and college student, struggling day by day to pay my bills. I need all the help I can get, especially not having family of my own locally.

Viola, TX

Help the citizens of this nation as we live through this pandemic and the economic disaster of the pandemic. Make helping the people of this nation your first priority. Make America Kind Again!!!

Thomas, CO

I need help paying my bills, help buying food. We need P-ebt back, we need wages at 15 a hour. We need child care and elderly care funding.

Najimah, PA

Both my husband and I have lost income from our part-time jobs and are currently in financial distress because of increased childcare expenses. We’ve used our savings and he’s working overtime while I’m still working 2 jobs.

Ebony, AZ

We are having a lot of trouble finding work because my 2-year-old son has autism – he was born premature and has health issues. His father and I are both blind, me and my right him in his left. Right now my medical is about $600 a month and that’s using every coupon I can use… I have no cash assistance or disability or any type of income… and we don’t know what to do!

Brittany, FL

I am a RN in the field and still can’t get a Covid vaccine due to not enough vaccines.

Julie, TX