The credit expired last December because Republicans, plus Democrat Joe Manchin, have stalled efforts to extend this tax relief to working families. Millions of families like mine missed our check in January — and we won’t get another unless they’re renewed.
Those monthly Child Tax Credits allowed Ada Mae to attend her beloved homeschool co-op, so necessary for her social well-being. They provided financial stability that helped me be more present with her, when I wasn’t worrying about how the next bill would be paid. And they gave me space to look for — and get — better-paying work in the field in which I’m now qualified.
There are lots of stories like ours. A Columbia study found that the December payments alone kept 3.7 million children out of poverty, reducing the monthly child poverty rate by about 30 percent.
But in the first month without payments, Columbia experts project that the monthly child poverty rate may rise from the current 12 percent to over 17 percent — the highest it’s been in over a year.
As these numbers show, parents weren’t squandering these payments on luxuries. They used them to live less precariously.
A quarter of parents used the credit on child care so they could return to work. A third of the payments went to essential school expenses. And at least 90 percent of families were using the credits on necessities for their families.
Perhaps most dramatically, new research has found that cash payments to low-income families significantly improve infant brain development and learning later in life.
This is the sort of lifeline that changes children’s lives. So why are we taking a torch to it? Why would we lift children out of poverty only to slam them back into it a few months later?
The failure to renew the expanded Child Tax Credit isn’t just cruel and short-sighted — it’s economically unsound. For the economy to fully recover, workers and families must be able to survive inflation and other pandemic-related hardships. The enhanced Child Tax Credit was arguably our best tool for that.
It certainly was for me and my beautiful, confident Ada Mae
All of our children deserve the best chance in life, free from the brutal precariousness of poverty. The enhanced Child Tax Credit is that best chance. Let’s not miss it.