By Senator Lena C. Taylor
One of my favorite comedians is Lavelle Crawford. He has this pretty funny skit in which he says his mom would give him “the speech” before they entered the grocery store.
“Don’t ask for nothing, don’t touch nothing, don’t look at nothing,” Crawford said, doing his best imitation of his mother. Knowingly, most crowds erupted in side-splitting laughter. It was a joke, but it wasn’t a joke.
Everyday parents across this country work within a tight budget to provide for their children. One extra item or expenditure could throw the entire plan off track. An unexpected car repair, co-pay for a doctor’s visit or missed day of work could be the difference between making rent or getting a five-day eviction notice.
Long before the devastating impact of COVID-19, millions of American families were struggling to stay afloat. They could buoy above the poverty line today or sink tomorrow.
While the line may fluctuate from state to state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human services sets the official poverty threshold at an annual income of no more than approximately $26,000 for a family of four.
However, in 2017 the U.S. Agriculture Department estimated that a typical family spends $233,610 to raise a child from birth to the age of 17. Wealthier children, on average had and additional $10,000 more annually spent on their counterparts from families making less income. It goes without saying, more money brings better schools, opportunities and access.
The Child Tax Credit was started in 1997, not necessarily to level the playing field, but to definitely improve the outcomes for low income children. However, the credit missed the mark for so many families. Only parents who owed federal taxes at the end of the year could qualify for its full payment. Children of color often only received the benefit about 50% of the time, because their parents owed no taxes.
With the hard work of congressional democrats, who included the latest child tax credit provision in the American Rescue Plan, more than 12 million children will be lifted out of poverty. The Biden Harris administration have laid the groundwork to create substantial change for the most vulnerable youth in America. With a change in leadership, a plausible plan was put in place to get up to $300, per child, in the hands of low- and moderate-income families. Not a single congressional Republican voted to assist families in this way.
In spite of that fact, the Child Tax Credit is a game changer. For the duration of this year, parents can breathe a little easier. There will be money for school clothes, dental appointments, shoes and maybe a music class. The snare of poverty, that strangles the dreams of so many children, can be beaten. While we are still in the fight, I appreciate the Democrats that were willing to do battle on behalf of our children.