Valerie Keeney, who sent this letter to The New Political, is the public relations coordinator of the development division of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, an agency working to address poverty in southeast Ohio. This column has been lightly edited for grammar and style.
The Advanced Child Tax Credit (CTC), enacted this past year under the American Rescue Plan, has had an incredible impact on families across our area. The Advanced CTC allowed families to receive half of their Child Tax Credit payments in monthly installments throughout 2021. Meaning, families received $300 per child age five and under or $250 per child age 6 to 17 each month.
As the outreach worker for HAPCAP, I worked with families to help them enroll in the Advanced CTC using the website GetCTC.org. This site was used to file a simplified return for folks who made very little to no income (yes, even families with no income still qualified for Advanced CTC!). Through this work, I saw firsthand how these payments impacted families. Families who were struggling to make ends meet let me know how happy they were to receive money to help with housing, food, and medical bills. Some were excited to be able to give holiday gifts to their family this year. One family adopted four children and received around $6,000 by the end of the year, which the mother noted was an incredible source of relief to help cover the cost of regular household expenses.
Raising children is definitely not easy, as most of us know, and it is important that families continue to receive the support they need, not just in pandemic times. Yes, the pandemic has certainly exacerbated families’ struggles to work, afford childcare, and provide for their children; however, the Advanced Child Tax Credit has the potential to continue to ease these burdens for so many if it is extended into subsequent years.
I’ve seen firsthand the impact of the Advanced CTC on families across Southeast Ohio. Currently, payments are set to end at the end of the year. Congress should act swiftly to ensure our region’s children have the resources they need to thrive.