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Failure to Pass Extended Child Tax Credit Threatens to Send Babies into Poverty

ZERO TO THREE urges Senate to pass Build Back Better Act to secure families’ economic security

This morning, the final Child Tax Credit monthly payment was sent to families across the country, leaving families with an uncertain future heading into the holiday season. ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading early childhood development nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, called on the U.S. Senate to pass the Build Back Better Act without delay to ensure that life-changing payments continue into 2022 and beyond.

ZERO TO THREE Senior Director of Federal Policy Patricia Cole stated:

“Ten days before Christmas, families nationwide are receiving their last checks as part of the expanded Child Tax Credit. This policy has proven to be the greatest weapon against child poverty in generations, but without passing the Build Back Better Act, all that could end. Parents are heading into the New Year with no idea whether they’ll be able to put food on the table for their children, keep their babies in clean diapers, or pay rent to keep a roof over their family’s heads. This is a cruel catastrophe that inflicts undue harm on families during the holiday season, especially the Black and Brown families who will be hardest hit by this rollback.

When families struggle to make ends meet, babies suffer. Poverty in early childhood literally gets under the skin, bringing stress that can undermine brain development and increase long-term health risks over the course of a child’s life. Every day our policymakers argue instead of acting, it raises the danger of our infants and toddlers sliding back into poverty and facing long-term health and earnings outcomes.

“The Senate must take action to protect families and continue to fight child poverty. They must pass the Build Back Better Act with an extension of the expanded Child Tax Credit, ensuring that this important policy will continue into 2022. The urgency is real, and the stakes for many families could not be higher. Pass this bill, now, or our babies will pay the price.”

The Child Tax Credit, which was expanded in the American Rescue Plan, provided critical resources for families with babies and toddlers, and led to a historic reduction in early childhood poverty, setting millions of children on a stronger developmental trajectory. Failure to ensure the Child Tax Credit extends into 2022 would be a catastrophic failure, pushing families with young children back into poverty. The stakes are particularly high for Black and Brown families, who are more likely to live with low income and poverty and who will be disproportionately hurt by losing this lifeline.

The Build Back Better Act would provide historic investments in the care infrastructure that supports infants, toddlers, and their families. Policies specific to families of young children in the legislation passed by the House include:

  • Child Care: Establishes birth through five child care and early learning entitlement program with a robustly funded three-year ramp up to expand subsidies, raise wages, and build the supply and quality of available programs before the entitlement for the vast majority of families with young children begins on October 1, 2024. Reimbursement rates would support quality programs and increased compensation for providers to at least a living wage, with parity with similarly credentialed elementary educators. Authorized for 6 years.
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave: Permanently authorizes 4 weeks of comprehensive paid family and medical leave, starting 2024, with a progressive wage replacement structure and an expanded family definition.
  • Child Tax Credit: Extends the enhanced Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan Act through 2022, and permanently extends refund of full credit to families with low or no earnings.

More information about the legislation can be found in ZERO TO THREE’s recent resource, “What’s in Build Back Better for Babies?”

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