In time of inflation, support still growing for bringing back expanded Child Tax Credit
Last week, Voices for Human Needs reported on renewed efforts throughout the U.S. to urge Congress to once again expand the Child Tax Credit. As families struggle with rising prices — everything from the food they buy to rising rents to increased energy costs — action is needed more than ever.
This week, the calls for CTC expansion continued, with new stories in six states.
In Virginia, in a story headlined, “VA families urge revival of Child Tax Credit,” Virginia News Connection interviewed Virginia kindergarten teacher and member of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers Melissa Keebaugh. Keebaugh said she has felt the effects first hand, and seen them at her school. She said reinstating the Child Tax Credit would have numerous benefits for kids and families.
“I think that we would see a lot more of our children without having food instability,” said Keebaugh. “That would give them access to better housing, to safer housing. I’m sure that there would be a benefit then to the schools because they would be able to put more money into that.”
Keebaugh’s personal benefit from the Child Tax Credit was being able to afford after-school care for her daughter. In her work as a Kindergarten teacher, Keebaugh said she finds that families are struggling with food insecurity.
According to Virginia News Connection, Herndon Elementary School, where Keebaugh works, has a program that provides families with bags of easy-to-prepare food over the weekend. Since the Child Tax Credit ended, she noted that the program’s needs have increased. “Since the child tax credit has basically disappeared, our numbers for requests have doubled,” said Keebaugh. “And, actually, right now, we have a waiting list for our students needing those food resources.”
In Maine, Maine News Service interviewed Kate Harvey, a former teacher and now a stay-at-home mother living with a disability. Harvey said the Child Tax Credit provided some stability during an unpredictable time. “Being able to pay your cellphone bill on time and not have to play catch-up through accruing an extra fee, or worrying about a disconnect notice,” Harvey said. “It was definitely impactful.”
Harvey told Maine News Service she has spoken to many families in her neighborhood who also benefited from the tax credit and were able to plan for their futures, whether working or going back to school. “We’re not stashing in offshore accounts, or you know, throwing it at stocks and bonds,” Harvey pointed out. “It’s going directly into local businesses; local restaurants, even.”
The number of families in Maine with children reporting they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat in the previous week has increased by 110% in the past year, Maine News Service reported.
Ann Danforth, economic security policy advocate for the nonprofit Maine Equal Justice, told Maine News Service that the Child Tax Credit gives families in need the dignity to spend the money how it works best for them. She thinks restoring it would improve everyone’s economic security. “We all do better when our neighbors and communities are doing well,” Danforth said. “I think that it’s looking out for our neighbors — which we as Mainers do — and wanting to make sure that our neighbors are able to put food on the table, pay their rent.”
In Montana, in a story headlined “As MT families struggle, Child Tax Credits touted as solution,” Big Sky Connection interviewed Jackie Semmens, policy analyst for the Montana Budget and Policy Center. Semmens said many families have slid backwards since the credit expired at the end of 2021, and they’re also facing new financial challenges.
“Inflation, especially when it comes to the cost of food; families are struggling to find child care still,” she said. “And having this extra money that can help them fill those gaps with child care is not only good for families, but for businesses and our economy. It helps parents get back in the workforce.”
The number of families with children who are considered food insecure has increased by 50% since the tax credit expired, according to recent data, Big Sky Connection reported.
Semmens told Big Sky Connection that the drop in poverty rates from the expanded Child Tax Credit was especially dramatic for children of color in Montana. She said families spent the money they received to make ends meet. “People were spending the tax credit on basic needs – on food, on utilities, on rent – and using it to help with the cost of raising kids,” she said.
Semmens said expanding the Child Tax Credit is one of the only steps the country has taken in a long time to specifically reduce the number of children in poverty. So, if we want to keep up the successes from that temporary expansion,” she said, “we need to make sure that the expanded Child Tax Credit is permanent.”
In the state of Washington, in a story headlined, “Campaign to reinstate Child Tax Credit program for WA families,” Washington News Service interviewed Megan Pirie, a parent ambassador with Head Start in eastern Washington. Pirie has four children adopted from foster care. She bought a house just before the pandemic, was then laid off and, due to an administrative mixup, didn’t get unemployment for three months. Pirie said the tax credit saved her.
“Without that Child Tax Credit, we probably would be homeless,” she told Washington News Service. “We probably would have lost our house. I can’t even think about that, but what I can think about is the fact that as a community advocate and as someone invested in our families, we have to continue to do things like this, and make sure they happen.”
Washington News Service reports that according to a recent survey, food insecurity for families in Washington state has increased nearly 58% from last year when the tax credit was in place. “Food benefits have not increased,” she said. “A pair of shoes is twice as much. How will families make it?”
Pirie says the program would benefit future generations. “It’s really something that’s an investment into our communities and into our kids,” she said. “It’s not a handout. It’s something that says, ‘Here. We recognize that our country is in this state, that we need to help those that are going to build our country back.'”