Child Tax Credit One Year Later: Financial Insecurity and Child Hunger Increased for 61% of Americans

A mother unpacking local food in zero waste packaging from bag with help of daughter in kitchen at home.
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One of the biggest contention points on Capitol Hill in the current session is restarting the expanded Child Tax Credit, a measure introduced during the pandemic to help families pay for necessary expenses like food, rent, child care and education.

As part of The American Rescue Plan of 2021, the expansion of the CTC provided automatic monthly payments of $250-300 per child and increased the annual tax credit from $2,000 to $3,000 per child over the age of 6. It also upped the credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for those under the age of 6, per a release issued by the White House.

The expanded plan also removed an earning requirement, thereby allowing near poverty-level families the ability to receive the full breadth of the credits. It was the largest Child Tax Credit ever issued by the federal government, though it stopped in December 2021 after much pushback from a number of Republican lawmakers.

According to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has been one of the Democrats leading the charge in resuming the expanded CTC program, upon its establishment the new parameters had a sweeping effect on child poverty. Per statistics issued by his office, it’s said that “between July and December 2021, child poverty was slashed by nearly 40% to reach a record low of 5.2%, and 3 million children were lifted out of poverty in a single month.”

A new survey issued by ParentsTogether Action, a family advocacy nonprofit with more than 3 million members nationwide, showed that 61% of American families have found it more difficult to meet their family’s basic needs since the monthly checks stopped, and 22% can no longer meet their family’s basic needs.

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The survey polled 500 families with various income levels across the country during a two-week span in November, with 82% also saying they are in favor of reinstating the expanded CTC program.

A further look at the survey responses showed that nearly 50% of participants said they need to tap into their emergency savings to pay for monthly necessities, 45% noted they can no longer pay for kids programs that involve sports and music, 43% are no longer able to save for their children’s future — and a full 30% said they can’t afford to buy enough food to feed their kids.

When asked how much of an impact the monthly payments had for their families, 77% noted they made a “huge difference” and 84% said the monthly CTC payments made them less anxious about their finances. The vast majority — 91% — noted it was “somewhat” or “extremely” important for the payments to resume.

“The expanded Child Tax Credit is the single best tool we have to reduce child poverty; it’s a solution that we know works. But one year ago, Republicans and Senator Joe Manchin effectively abandoned millions of American families relying on monthly Child Checks as the pandemic continued and the costs of housing, food, and childcare all continued to rise,” Ailen Arreaza, co-director of ParentsTogether Action, said in a supplied statement.

“Now, after a year of missed CTC payments, we’re seeing American families in financial crisis… Congress must act immediately to reinstate the expanded CTC before more kids suffer.”

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The full survey results can be viewed here.

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