Demand Congress address childhood hunger and poverty
Throughout the pandemic, Congress and the Biden Administration demonstrated how government can be a source for good, lifting up millions of children and families.
From the expanded Child Tax Credit to healthy school meals for all, together we dramatically reduced childhood hunger and poverty. But now, the Senate’s failure to act has meant needed help has run out just as rising prices have made things much harder for families. Hunger is rising. Women can’t return to work because child care is unaffordable or unavailable. We can’t give up now.
The second half of 2021, more than 61 million children in roughly 36 million families across the U.S. received a monthly Child Tax Credit payment of $250 or $300 per child.
Then because the Senate failed to act, the Child Tax Credit payments stopped in January, and 3.7 million children were plunged back into poverty.
These monthly payments also help alleviate the scourge of racial inequality in the U.S. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 9.9 million children will fall back into poverty or deeper into poverty without an extension of the expanded CTC―and disproportionate poverty for Black, Latinx, and American Indian or Alaska Native (AIAN) children in particular will grow even worse.
We know that when children do not have nutritious meals, they are more likely to fall behind in school and experience more health problems. Now, as rising costs and supply shortages have hit school food programs, Congress needs to provide more funding so more high-poverty communities can provide free meals to all students. Of course, children need to eat when school is out, so Congress should create a nationwide Summer EBT program, providing debit cards for eligible families to help them purchase food when schools are closed.
Finally, we cannot fully invest in families if we don’t address the crisis in child care and early education.
The Biden administration and the House have proposed adding billions of dollars into federally supported child care and pre-k programs. This will help ensure child care doesn’t bankrupt families with low and moderate incomes, ensure child care workers are paid a fair wage of at least $15 an hour, and provide voluntary free pre-school for 3- and 4-year-olds.
Aside from difficulties finding quality child care spots, costs remain astronomical―exceeding $10,000 a year in many parts of the country. Under the President’s plan, the cost of child care would be capped at 7% of a family’s earnings for millions of working families.
The Build Back Better, Please! edition. Covid-19 laid bare a host of vulnerabilities that have been holding our nation back for a long time. We saw shocking disparities in sickness and death by race and ethnicity. We saw billionaires pile up more than $2.1 trillion in new wealth during the pandemic, while unemployment and hardship spiked for millions of Americans – again, disproportionately Black, brown, Indigenous, poor. Our institutions are far more fragile than we thought. Amid lockdowns, schools did not serve the poorest children adequately. Health facilities were overburdened. Too many of our aging lost their lives in nursing homes; there was not enough home care for those who wanted to live in the community.
The American Rescue Plan and previous relief did a lot to lessen the worst of the hardships endured by millions. The Child Tax Credit reduced child poverty by about 40 percent. After the first CTC payment, there was a 30% drop in reports of sometimes/often not having enough to eat in the previous week, and a 43% drop among those under $35,000 income. But as recently as last month, 29% of us were still saying they were finding it somewhat or very difficult to pay regular bills; that was true of 38% Hispanics/Latinx and 44% of Blacks. And now, as Covid deaths have exceeded 750,000 in the U.S., we need to Build Back Better.
As we write, President Biden’s Build Back Better plan is before the House of Representatives, and the outcome is still in doubt. Build Back Better will achieve historic gains in so many areas, some described below – health care, child care, housing, and home care for the aging and those with disabilities, just to name a few. But only if the House takes the first step and passes it.
There is a growing sense of urgency among human needs advocates – a sense that unless Congress gets it done soon, it won’t be done at all. And that would be yet another tragedy, on top of the tragedy of the pandemic that we have suffered through for roughly 20 months now.
So please tell Congress: get it done. Please call your Representative today –1-888-516-5820.
The number of households with children who will receive $3,000 – $3,600 per child from the Child Tax Credit; 90% of all families with children, due to Build Back Better.
In the first 3 years of the Build Back Better child care expansion, eligible families with incomes under 75% of State Median Income will pay nothing for child care. SMI ranges from a low of about $45k in Mississippi to $85k in Maryland. No family will pay more than 7% of its income on child care. Over time, families at up to 250% of SMI will be entitled to a subsidy.
The number of uninsured adults below the poverty line who would gain health insurance through the ACA marketplace, paying $0 for premiums. These people, 60% of whom are people of color, have been closed out of coverage because they live in the states that have not expanded their Medicaid programs.
The number of people now on waiting lists for Home and Community Based Services under Medicaid. (3.7m people get those home care services.) The $150b increase in BBB will serve many more of the aging and people with disabilities.
An estimated 5.7 million adult renters living with children were behind on rent, with nearly half of these renters reporting eviction is at least somewhat likely in the next two months. That’s according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ analysisof the latest U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey data. Some 21 percent of renters living with children reported being in a household behind on rent from early August to late September, compared to 12 percent of renters living without children in their household. Twenty-nine percent of Black renters living with children reported being behind on rent, compared to 24 percent of Asian renters, 22 percent of Latinx renters, and 15 percent of White renters.
Additional households that would receive rental housing vouchers under Build Back Better, which includes $150 billion in affordable housing investments. 700,000 people will benefit from the vouchers, including about 274,000 children, 138,000 people with disabilities, and 76,000 seniors.
The number of children who would eat more nutritious summer meals by BBB’s expansion of the Summer EBT program; the program provides $65 per month per child.
The number of workers without dependent children who will see an increase in their Earned Income Tax Credit under BBB. The maximum credit for these workers will rise from about $540 to $1,500. The credit would expand to cover 19-24 year-olds and those 65 and older.