Tightening abortion laws reignite conversation around a permanent Child Tax Credit

Originally posted on Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper.

Many families that were helped are struggling again

The child tax credit expansion reduced food insufficiency by 26% in 2021, according to Allison Bovell-Ammon, who has studied the issue.

“Food insecurity not only affects a child’s physical health or physical growth, but also their cognitive development, their ability to focus and do well in school to really reach their highest potential,” said Bovell-Ammon, director of policy and communications with Children’s Healthwatch at Boston Medical Center. “Even brief periods of disruption of access to food can have really lasting impacts on a child’s ability to grow and to be healthy.”

Those disruptions can negatively affect overall life outcomes.

Food insufficiency and insecurity disproportionately burden Black and Latino families, as well as single adult families. Research indicates these same populations were hit hardest by the expiration of the child tax credit payments at the start of this year, Bovell-Ammon said.

For Thomas, the expiration of these payments has made life more difficult. She had to start making sacrifices — like when her sons were going back to school and they needed new clothes.

“It seemed like everybody just sprouted out at the same time,” Thomas said. “I felt it when it was kind of tough, juggling who to go and get new shoes for.”

In the month after the credits expired, 3.7 million more children entered poverty. The child poverty rate rose from 12% in December 2021 to 17% in January 2022 — a 41% increase. Food insufficiency rates increased by approximately 25% among families with children from January to July of this year, according to a study from the Boston University School of Public Health.

That’s a big reason why many are advocating to bring the credit back — and make it permanent. Doing so would lift people out of cyclical poverty, said David Plasterer, a senior policy associate with Results, a national advocacy group in support of the child tax credit.

“When you’re experiencing poverty, job loss is fairly routine. You get into a job and you think, ‘Okay, well, this is going to be the one,’ then your car breaks down, or you lose your housing, or a kid gets sick, and you get fired, because you couldn’t go into work,” Plasterer said.

A permanent child tax credit would help people overcome these obstacles to stable employment.

“It would allow families to get more financial stability and increase their earning capabilities long term,” Plasterer said.