As a policy, the 2021 expansion was historically successful, cutting child poverty nearly in half. But it died by politics this year. Can it be revived in 2023?

by Grace Segers, The New Republic

When the Covid-19 pandemic spurred school closures across the country, parents like Pasqueal Nguyen, a mother of seven in Youngsville, Louisiana, needed to ensure their children were still receiving a sufficient education. Two of Nguyen’s children, who now range ages three to 16, also have special needs, complicating efforts to provide care at home.

So Nguyen, a child welfare consultant, was grateful for the monthly checks her family received last year as part of the expanded child tax credit. They used the credit for necessities such as groceries, gas, child care assistance, and school supplies. But when the program expired at the end of last year, that loss brought sacrifices, such as removing her son from a day care program.

US Treasury illustrative check for child tax credit for a small girl to illustrate American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 payments

When I spoke to her earlier in December, Nguyen told me that she hoped the credit would be reinstated, and that she would put her son back in day care if it were implemented in the near future, before he starts preschool. “Even though the pandemic is kind of going away, the repercussions from it, with all the high amount of money that everyone’s being charged for food and gas and everything else—[the credit] would even things out for families,” she said.

The American Rescue Plan, passed in March 2021, implemented three major changes to the child tax credit: increasing the amount to to $3,600 for children aged 5 and under, $3,000 for children between ages 6 and 17 for households making under a certain threshold; disbursing the credit in monthly installments; and making it fully refundable—that is, accessible for families with low or no income. The monthly payments began in July 2021, and expired at the end of that year due to congressional inaction. Families received the remainder of their credit as a lump sum during tax season this year.

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