New analysis also shows Maine stands to lose $70,750,000 in additional economic activity each month without payments to parents.
Friday is the first anniversary of the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). ARPA provided vital aid to communities at the height of the pandemic, including expanded unemployment benefits, additional health coverage and housing assistance, educational funding, and help for local and state governments to provide additional services and keep functioning. In Maine, ARPA brought in $4.6 billion in federal support.
The expanded monthly Child Tax Credit has been one of ARPA’s most successful and popular programs, providing flexibility to parents to buy food, make rent, afford child care, and other routine but essential family expenses. It dramatically lowered the number of U.S. children living in poverty. And in Maine, the expanded monthly CTC put up to $3,600 more a year, per child, into the hands of nearly every family with children and brought more than an estimated $435 million to Maine families.
But now, with Congress’ failure to enact a policy that would make those payments permanent, a new analysis from the Economic Security Project finds that 8,000 Maine children living in poverty before ARPA will be in the same dire situation they were in before.
Roxy Kai (she/they) and her husband live with her nine-year-old daughter in Woodstock, and Roxy has a chronic health condition that sometimes makes it impossible for her to work.
“These expanded payments have meant my family and other poor families had a layer of protection against homelessness, or hunger, or any of the other terrible things that can happen when you’re just barely holding on and some new expense comes up. We had this moment of being able to breathe, and losing that frankly has been a slap in the face. And the fact that this is happening because Congress can’t pass anything has made it so much worse.”
The CTC didn’t just help parents – it also brought tens of billions of dollars into local economies even as the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating them.
Sarah Austin, the director of policy and research at the Maine Center for Economic Policy said, “The CTC expansion benefited 90% of Maine families and cut child poverty nearly in half – and the ripple effect made our economy stronger by increasing spending in local economies and supporting jobs as families use the money to purchase food, pay bills, and cover school and childcare expenses.” Unless the CTC is reinstated, Maine could lose over $70 million in additional economic activity every month, the Economic Security Project finds. “And significant numbers of families experiencing poverty stand to lose out. No matter who we are and where we’re from, we all believe in giving kids their best start, and the expanded monthly CTC payments have been one of the most effective means in fighting child poverty in a generation. Opportunities for more Maine kids to grow up with stability and security should not be temporary. We urge Maine’s federal delegation to reinstate the CTC expansion.”
In the first six weeks of expanded CTC payments, the number of adults living with children reporting that their household didn’t have enough to eat fell by 3.3 million or nearly one-third.
Monthly expanded CTC payments were also helping to close the gap between white families and families of color, who have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic.
Ann Danforth, a policy analyst with Maine Equal Justice added, “A year ago, Congress boosted thousands of Maine families out of poverty with effective, flexible, monthly child tax credit payments. By failing to find a compromise that would extend the enhanced CTC, they’ve cruelly returned those families and kids to the struggle, stress, hunger, and even homelessness that can accompany poverty. Low-income Maine families need the CTC to deal with rising energy costs, inflation, job market uncertainty, and continued child care disruption. We need Congress to act now.”
Any families who have not claimed their full child tax credit may get free, confidential help filing their taxes from Maine’s CA$H Coalition, at www.cashmaine.org.
Nora Flaherty-Stanford, Maine People’s Alliance: email@example.com, 207.370.8314
Dan D’Ippolito, Maine Center for Economic Policy: firstname.lastname@example.org, 207.620.1101
Alison Weiss, Maine Equal Justice: email@example.com, 207.232.0859