Give our children hope, renew monthly child tax credit

Published: 06/03/2022 07:30:47

Modified: 06/03/2022 07:30:12

The hardest thing about teaching is when your student carries the weight of the classroom world with them.

I had a student who saw her mother be NARCAN five times in one year. Two other people died on the floor of his apartment. In this same community, I have known families who lost their apartments and surfed for a few weeks until they could save up and afford to buy an apartment.

Now that I work in a more affluent neighborhood, the children are harder to identify, but even here there are students desperately looking for a way out of poverty. Whether we see them or not, the lives of these families have been changed by the Monthly Child Tax Credit in 2021. They may have forgotten what it was like to be hungry or embarrassed not to be able to afford basic school supplies. Now those same families are falling back into poverty, over 4 million children, because Congress has not renewed this extended program.

More than 11 million children live below the poverty line. They didn’t choose poverty, and they rarely find excuses for it. Families want to find a path to a better life, but even with dedication, their circumstances can prevent them from finding the path.

The difference between a rich community and a poor community is so striking that it is shocking. When I worked with students from a community in the top 25 income-rich households, the children came to school healthy, grown and fulfilled into adulthood.

Conversely, in a poverty-stricken community, the children were malnourished and looked like they belonged in college. These children are starving for food, feeling the stress of their parents, and know they are one bad week away from being homeless. Yet we ask these children to contemplate the Declaration of Independence or do algebra. Here’s the crazy thing, they do it because it’s an escape from the pressures of adulthood hanging over them from home.

What am I asking you then? Support the renewal of the Monthly Child Tax Credit to provide these families with much-needed relief. Despite the unfortunate demise of the Build Back Better Act, there is still room for politicians on both sides of the aisle to come together on a compromise to restore monthly CTC payments. This will allow parents to hire child care to enter the economy and work to provide more for their children.

For others, it will allow them to stay home an extra night a week and help with homework. Parents can buy a little more fresh produce in the perimeter of the supermarket so that their children are healthier. Children can come to class with full bellies without worrying about their parents’ argument over money making their eyes red and their minds mentally weary.

A 2021 survey by ParentsTogether shows that of parents who received the child tax credit, 79% spent the money immediately, with the highest bracket being 48% on food, along with utilities ( 45%), rent (29%) or childcare. costs (13%) just behind.

Beyond concern for our children, the Child Tax Credit also makes economic sense. Poverty can indirectly cost cities more money; with an increased need for law enforcement and prisons in low-income areas that have high crime rates.

In the United States, the annual cost of child poverty exceeds a trillion dollars. What’s more, social work researchers estimate that every dollar spent fighting child poverty would save our country seven dollars in managing its impact. There are preventable emergencies and fewer health service needs when parents are not pressured into using drugs or alcohol due to financial stressors.

Direct cash policies like the CTC give families hope by creating accessible pathways with fewer cost-limited options. The American Economic Journal showed in a quasi-experimental study that an additional $4,000 each year in poor households increased school progress by one year at age 21 and reduced the rate of petty crime by 22% for 16- and 17-year-olds. .

The child tax credit will not bring them wealth, but it does pave the way for them. It gives them the feeling that someone believes in their potential and in their future. Students do much better in their studies when they think their teacher believes in them.

Imagine what would be possible if they knew our society held this same belief? Members of Congress, invest in our next generation, a generation that already has so much against them, and renew the monthly child tax credit and lift these families out of poverty.

(Dr. Karl Hubner of Hampstead is a socioeconomics and student achievement researcher and teaches in New Hampshire.)