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Utah group urges Congress to reinstate Child Tax Credit payments 

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Mark Richardson

(Utah News Connection) When families began receiving expanded Child Tax Credit payments during the pandemic, the extra family income lifted almost four-million children out of poverty, but when the payments stopped, child poverty increased by more than 40 percent.

In Utah, just a year after the monthly payments stopped, the number of families with children reporting food insecurity increased by 74 percent.

Gina Cornia, executive director of Utahns Against Hunger, thinks lawmakers should reinstate the $300- to $360-per-child payments, especially with inflation near double-digits. 

"With the price of food, and with the price of gas and all of these other financial pressures these families are feeling, reinstating the monthly Child Tax Credit would really help ease those economic concerns for families," Cornia contended.

Congress debated restoring the payments earlier in the current session, but negotiations stalled after conservative lawmakers claimed they contributed to inflation and demanded work requirements be added to the program. Political observers say it is unlikely the expanded Child Tax Credit will be restored this year. 

Research shows children living in poverty are more susceptible to disease and poor health. They perform at lower academic levels, and experience stress and anxiety more often. Cornia stressed it is impossible to overestimate the difference some financial breathing room makes in the lives of these families.

"I think, over the lifetime of raising a child, that's a huge amount of difference," Cornia asserted. "Especially since it's already been demonstrated that the Child Tax Credit raised families out of poverty. Who doesn't want that?"

Economists say the average family will pay at least an extra $2,300 this year for food, housing and other essentials. With the Child Tax Credit, a family with one child under age six would have received $3,600 to offset those expenses.