Like many parents, the pandemic brought so much uncertainty into my family’s life. As a wife and mother of two young children, there was no amount of planning that could have prevented us from being affected financially. Like the majority of Americans, even our two incomes did not earn us enough to save up enough for an emergency like this.
But after a year-long journey of unexpected and unpleasant events caused by the pandemic, I have something to look forward to in July: the expanded child tax credit.
The Biden administration announced that the IRS will start to send monthly payments from the new expanded child tax credit as early as July 15 as part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. This new policy increases the child tax credit to $3,000 per child aged 6 to 17 years old and $3,600 per child under the age of 6 for the tax year 2021.
That’s an extra $250 to $300 per child in your bank account each month. For families like mine, this is a gamechanger.
Before the pandemic hit, I was working full-time for a non-profit organization that worked directly with teens and families in need. I had the flexibility that I needed as a mother, I could start later in the morning and was able to bring my children to work. My husband works as a healthcare worker and has two jobs.
When the pandemic hit, my employer informed us that our program will be closed permanently. I was not expecting this and I couldn’t believe that in the midst of a pandemic I would be unemployed. It felt like a nightmare that I couldn’t wake myself from.
All these unexpected changes significantly affected our long term financial life and all the plans we had for our near future. As parents, we are not just thinking of our own futures, but that of our children’s. One of the worst scenarios is not being able to provide your child with their basic needs. During the pandemic, so many families, from the middle class to low and no income households, felt it in our pockets.
Studies have found that the first eight years of a child’s life are crucial to their long term success. So while these extra monthly payments can’t come soon enough, Congress needs to make them permanent to keep people out of the cycle of poverty and build back the middle class.
Instead of a setback, we can make this moment a time to reinvest in families so that none of us have to fear falling into a financial black hole. The expanded child tax credit can help us create that safety net.