Advocates push to restore Child Tax Credit to bring children out of poverty
As part of the federal government's efforts to help families during the pandemic, lawmakers expanded the Child Tax Credit to include direct monthly payments for each child under the age of 17. But when the program ended, millions of children fell back into poverty, and advocates say Congress needs to reinstate the payments.
In Utah, just a year after the monthly payments stopped, the number of families with children reporting food insecurity increased by 74%. Gina Cornia with the group Utahns Against Hunger thinks lawmakers should reinstate the $300-360 per-child payments, especially with inflation near double-digits.
"With the price of food, and with the price of gas and all of these other financial pressures these families are feeling, reinstating the monthly Child Tax Credit would really help ease those economic concerns for families," Cornia said.
Congress debated restoring the payments earlier in the current session, but negotiations stalled after conservative lawmakers claimed they contributed to inflation and demanded that work requirements be added to the program. Political observers say it's unlikely the expanded Child Tax Credit will be restored this year.
Research shows children living in poverty are more susceptible to disease and poor health. They perform at lower academic levels, and experience stress and anxiety more often. Cornia says it’s impossible to overestimate the difference some financial breathing room makes in the lives of these families.
"I think, over the lifetime of raising a child, that's a huge amount of difference. And especially since it's already been demonstrated that the Child Tax Credit raised families out of poverty. Who doesn't want that?" Cornia said.
Economists say the average family will pay at least an extra $2300 this year for food, housing and other essentials. With the Child Tax Credit, a family with one child under age six would have received $3600 dollars to offset those expenses.