By Sasha Smith
New American FAmily Act legislation hopes to cut costs for families by making the expanded Child Tax Credit fully refundable and permanent.
The legislation introduced by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro from Connecticut has the support and sponsorship of Congressman Joe Morelle.
“As we continue to face challenging circumstances at home and abroad, it’s more important than ever to take actions that lower costs for families,” Morelle said. “We already know that the child tax credit is transformative: now it’s time to make it permanent and put more money back in the pockets of hard-working parents.”
Morelle said it helps families to pay rent, buy food and with other essential needs.
The Child Tax Credit was initially a part of the earlier American Rescue Plan, passed by congress in March 2021. The plan increased the pre-existing tax credit from $2000 per child to $3600 per child under 6 and $3000 for children between the ages of 6 and 16. Families who are eligible could receive monthly payments of up to $300 per child.
The credit will be a critical tool to help families budget and pay monthly bills. After the first round of payments rolled out in July of 2021, households reported not having enough to eat.
According to the U.S Census website, Rochester has one of the highest rates of poverty in the nation, at 31.3%. Families have reported using these funds for food, utilities, internet and mortgage/ rent payments. In the city of Rochester and surrounding areas, about 124,000 qualify for the benefit, with about $187.6 million of assistance paid out from July to December of 2021.
“Making the expanded Child Tax Credit permanent is essential to many of the families that Baden Street Settlement helps every day,” said Michael Marsh, Executive Director of the Baden Street Settlement.
The Baden Street Settlement is a Rochester based program, primarily serving the lower income African American and Latinx American community, that provides a full range of services to improve the quality of life in the Rochester community.
“This assistance has been vital to these families and has helped to ease child poverty in Northeast Rochester and needs to be continued. We, on behalf of our families, applaud Rep. Morelle for cosponsoring this bill,” Marsh stated.
As reported in a recent survey, 56% of families spent their CTC payment on food, 33% spent it on internet and other utilities, and 30% spent it on mortgage/rent.
Larry Marx, CEO of the Children’s Agenda, brought the issue into a broader perspective, stating, “when parents are at the kitchen table having dinner, paying bills or helping kids with homework, 7 out of 10 are experiencing crisis-level stress around pocketbook issues, like affording childcare. That’s true for city and suburban parents, white, Black or brown, fathers and mothers, Republicans and Democrats – all across the board.”
A poll taken by the Children’s Agenda showed that 90% of parents who took the survey with children under the age of 18 support the idea of permanent CTC payments.
“Congress’ failure to continue last year’s expanded federal Child Tax Credit this year has plunged some 3.7 million children nationwide back into poverty, including 10,000 children in Monroe County who were helped last year by the credit,” said Marx and said, he thanks Congress for listening to parents and fighting for the legislation.
Jerome Underwood, President and CEO of Action for Better Community and member of the National Community Action Partnership also expressed his support for the passing of this act. Underwood stated,
“If we are sincere about improving the lives of our most vulnerable, making the Child Tax Credit permanent is the right thing to do, and must be a legislative priority, “ Underwood said.
“As a member of the National Community Action Partnership, Action for a Better Community urges others in Congress and the Senate to join Congressman Morelle in support of this bill.”
Specifically, the American Family Act of 2021 will:
• Make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable.
• Increase the amount of money families receive from the Child Tax Credit.
• Allow for an additional credit for families with children under six years old.
• Require the amount families receive from the Child Tax Credit adjust annually with inflation.
• Require the Department of the Treasury to establish a program for making monthly advance payments of the Child Tax Credit.
For more information, read the full text of the bill https://bit.ly/34JrHIM