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We cut child poverty to historic lows, then let it rebound faster than ever before

Originally published on Vox.

When we talk about child poverty, we’re talking about parents being unsure whether they’ll be able to keep up with their utility bills enough for their kids to take a bath, or afford a backpack for school, or whether they’ll be able to feed them enough to keep them healthy. Since the expanded CTC ran out, Megan Sandel, a pediatrician, told NPR that she’s already seeing 3-year-old children lose weight because their parents can’t afford to feed them enough.

But as the short-lived success of the expanded CTC showed, federal welfare programs — when they include all children in poverty, not just the working poor — can almost immediately forge a new normal in the level of child poverty, no matter what’s going on in the wider economy. With all the abstract talk around pandemic-inspired “new normals,” cost-effectively cutting child poverty in half is a pretty decent pillar worth moving toward, and may even help build momentum to simply ending it altogether.