CHN’s Podcast Episode 2: A Critical Moment to Reduce Child Poverty.


June 30, 2021



Featured Speakers Emma Mehrabi from the Children's Defense Fund and Bruce Lesley from First Focus on Children Headshot Images.

In our second episode of the Voices for Human Needs Podcast, we focus on how critical this moment in time is for children’s activists and the enduring fight to reduce child poverty in the United States. Listen below or at your favorite podcast platform to hear more about what is at stake for children and families, making the Child Tax Credit expansion permanent, and actions you can take in the fight to reduce child poverty. Our featured speakers include long-time policy advocates, Emma Mehrabi from the Children’s Defense Fund, and Bruce Lesley from First Focus on Children discuss the Child Tax Credit, 

Listeners will hear more about the current state of child poverty in the U.S., the impacts of changing policy for children and families who rely on certain benefits as we find our way out of the pandemic, and how the recently passed American Rescue Plan and proposed American Families and Jobs Plans are revolutionizing the policy landscape regarding investments in children. Additionally, Emma and Bruce provide suggestions for advocates and organizers of any age on how to take action in combating child poverty in their communities through advocacy and centering the voices of young people.


Find our show wherever you get your podcasts and learn what you can do to advocate in your communities on behalf of making the Child Tax Credit permanent to reduce child poverty. The full transcript of this podcast episode is available here.


The recently passed American Rescue Plan and additional proposed economic recovery legislation are steps in the right direction to push forward many of the goals of long-time child policy advocates and organizers and to reduce child poverty. Perhaps most notably, beginning on July 15, 2021, most families with children will begin receiving monthly installments of the newly expanded Child Tax Credit. Families will receive $250 per month for each child age 6 through 17 and $300 per month for children younger than 6. Expanded policies including the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit have great potential to significantly impact children and youth who are most in need. Yet, to realize any real change and drastically cut poverty rates among the most vulnerable, broad public awareness campaigns and targeted implementation strategies are crucial. 

Emma Mehrabi, the current Director of Poverty Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund and a social worker by training, discussed the need to bridge policy and implementation through improved accessibility for families: “How do we not only better communicate what the policy means, what this program and this benefit mean for children and families but also, how do we get that benefit into the right hands? Community leaders and direct service providers are so often tasked with making sure that families actually get these benefits that they are entitled to– their lawful benefits– that would make a significant impact in their lives.”


Both speakers discussed the shift they have noticed in 2021 under the Biden administration to truly make an impact on changing the infrastructure of support for children and families of extremely low incomes. 

“For years and years, we just have been working really around the margins. Yet now there is just a fundamental recognition in this country that we should value families and make investments in them” said Bruce Lesley, who has more than 30 years of public policy experience at all levels of government, and 13 years serving as the president of First Focus on Children. “If we can afford to spend $2 billion a day at the department of defense, we can absolutely make investments in our nation’s children…We shouldn’t just make investments in kids because of their future. We should also do it for their here and now.” 

With so much at stake as economic recovery legislation is proposed in response to the pandemic, Mehrabi emphasized the importance for advocates and organizers everywhere to push their policymakers to continue taking the necessary steps to address poverty and structural inequalities in the long-term: “This is the time now, it is time to go bold, be progressive, lead with values. It is not a time to shrink federal spending. It’s not a time to retreat from investing in communities and making real structural systemic changes, particularly for the policies and policies that disproportionately impact black, Latinx, and indigenous communities.” 



Apple Podcasts:

child poverty
Child Tax Credit
Income Support
Poverty and Income