January is the first month since July that families throughout the country will not receive a monthly Child Tax Credit (CTC). They had been, for the last six months, receiving either $250 or $300 per child, depending on age. While 6 months might not seem like a long time, it is long enough for that income to become a fixture in the budget. Families, particularly those already struggling, used the CTC for groceries, utilities and childcare, and to make up for lost income when childcare and schools closed for COVID outbreaks. It is estimated that the Child Tax Credit reduced monthly child poverty rates by 30% and reduced food hardship for families with children by 25%.
Without the Child Tax Credit this month those gains are gone.
Of course, there are arguments for and against continuing the Child Tax Credit (currently a part of the Build Back Better plan). There are arguments for and against modifying the Child Tax Credit - adjusting the income limits or adding a work requirement, for example. But outside of those arguments, what is clear right now is that this month there are families and children going without who were not last month.