IN-DEPTH REPORT

OCTOBER 1, 2021

The Child Tax Credit is bringing “a sense of security and relief” to parents

ctc_mother_child.png

We have been able to take care of ourselves and feel a sense of security and relief.
Providers user, Wisconsin

We’ve regularly surveyed the over 5 millions households that use the Providers app since March 2020. Over this period our users have experienced immense hardship--over the past year 40% reported eating less, 40% were paying rent late or not at all, and 55% were borrowing to cover their expenses in a given month. Households raising children in particular struggled to make ends meet. They were consistently more likely to report not paying a bill, paying rent late, and only having enough money on hand to last them 1-2 days. 

 

We observed a major shift when millions of families began receiving the expanded Child Tax Credit monthly payments in July 2021. These payments--ranging from $250-300 per child under 18 for low-income families--have transformed the social safety net. 

Parents who received the advanced Child Tax Credit payments in July and August 2021 were:

  • More likely to think would be able to stay in their current housing for the next 30 days;

  • Less likely to have been evicted;

  • Less likely to have slept in a shelter in the past 30 days;

  • Less likely to haver under $25 on hand; and

  • More likely to report having everything they need in their homes.

We’ve also asked users how they spent their Child Tax Credit payments each month.

Keeping the lights on

The vast majority of parents, nearly three-quarters, reported spending some of the monthly credit payment on bills. Multiple users reported using the Child Tax Credit to avoid utility shut offs, evictions, and foreclosures.

It helped keep our apartment.
- Providers user, Wisconsin

I put everything i could of the full amount into a mortgage savings. Certified letter came 2 days ago to start foreclosure.
- Providers user, Michigan

It completely saved me. I paid minimum on certain bills.
- Providers user, Oregon

Try to catch up on utilities. Still behind & constantly begging for extra time to pay & constantly being warned of disconnection.
- Providers user, Alabama

Turned utilities back on.
- Providers user, Florida

I couldn't pay my utilities and it helped me pay it before it gotten cut off.
- Providers user, District of Columbia

Still, 13% of households we surveyed with children under 18 reported that their utilities had been shut off in the past 30 days. 72% of all parents report that they owe money on their utilities and other bills and 30% owe $500 or more. In addition, 50% of households surveyed with children under 18 paid September rent late or not at all.

50% of households surveyed with children under 18 paid September rent late or not at all.

When Holly*, a mother of 4 from Michigan, received the first Child Tax Credit payment in July she began to catch up on all her bills--she estimates she owed $2,000--except what she owed on her house payments. She would have already paid off her house entirely, if not for the pandemic. She’s eager to pay off the house so she can sell and move her kids out of Michigan. For now, she says “I'm just working on not going homeless or losing my utilities.”

Back to school

The timing of the first couple of payments was also very valuable to parents--19-24% reported spending some of the first two Child Tax Credit payments on school supplies or school clothes.

It gave me a sense of relief. I didn’t know how I was going to afford their things for school.
- Providers user, Louisiana

It has helped me get my son some clothes he needed and all of his school supplies. It also helps me pay for gas to get him to and from school and his doctors appointments.
- Providers user, Kentucky

I make almost 50% less on unemployment than I did working full time. CTC made it possible for me to get the girls new clothes for school.
- Providers user, Illinois

It helps out alot I'm able to get my car fixed since I transport my son to school everyday.
- Providers user, Ohio

Allowed us to get all the shopping done before school started instead of piecemealing it.
- Providers user, Oregon

Stephanie*, a mother of two school-age children in Tennessee who has yet to receive a Child Tax Credit payment, managed to get the necessary supplies for her kids. But she knows well the consequences of not doing so--”they’ll get their first 0 of the school year...it doesn't only punish the child with a 0... it punishes the parent because it's like ‘you're doing this to your child’.”

Covering unexpected loss of work

While the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided in some ways, many households with children continue to be affected. The Child Tax Credit has served many as an emergency fund when they can’t work. This month, 25% of parents with children under 18 reported getting sick, 21% reported having wages cut, and 13% said they had lost or quit a job in the past 30 days.

It definitely has helped as I've lost my job twice now due to covid.
- Providers user, Pennsylvania

It has helped during these hard times with the virus out of work.
- Providers user, Texas

It has helped pay rent when I lost my job due to Covid.
- Providers user, Illinois

Barely making it but can’t work i currently have covid.
- Providers user, Kentucky

I've been out sick with covid so it's gonna cover part of my bills.
- Providers user, Missouri

I was finally able to pay most my bills without begging for money . I have 4 kids and I'm a single mom who just lost her job due to covid.
- Providers user, Alabama

Venessa*, a mother of two toddlers in Florida, had to miss a week of work due to illness after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. The September Child Tax Credit payment covered her missed pay. Had it not been for the payment, she would have had to work overtime to make up the difference and spend a lot of time away from her young children. “They need me; I know they need me,” she told us.

By contrast, Adela*, a single mother to an 11 year old in California who has yet to receive a single Child Tax Credit payment, missed three weeks of work recently because the person who hires her to do office cleaning got sick with COVID-19. She had always planned to save the Child Tax Credit payments to buy a used car, but would have dipped into the money during this period in which she had no income.
“I had $600 saved for emergencies. But I now have $177 in the bank and $160 in my wallet...It's just the two of us. I only became a widow in May. I don't have anyone to ask for money.”

Bringing joy to families

While the Child Tax Credit payments have most often gone to necessities, many parents we’ve surveyed and interviewed have also been able to use the money to bring some joy to their children.

It helps to get those things I normally have to say no to because there just isn't money in the budget for it.
- Providers user, Minnesota

Helped pay for some fun extra.
- Providers user, Pennsylvania

Pay bills and spent it on the kids because 3 had birthdays coming up in sept. Before I would get the next payment.
- Providers user, Tennessee

Venessa*, the mother of two in Florida, rewarded her 2 and 3 year old children with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's in August. And in September, when she missed a week of work, the Child Tax Credit allowed her to still keep her promise to them a new bed. “They got the bed that they wanted and they didn't have to wait for it,” she says. Otherwise, “they would have to wait an extra paycheck.”

Gwendolyn*, mother to a 19, 16, and 8 year old in Georgia, has used some of her payments on necessities but has been saving a portion of it. “I want to spend it on the kids. I want to save for a family vacation. I want to go to Orlando Florida, but lack of finances doesn’t permit us to do so. The plan is to go next spring.”

“Please make this an indefinite thing”

We’ve asked several parents what they would tell the federal government about the Child Tax Credit, if they could share one thing.

Holly*, the mother of four in Michigan, says “They should continue it for the next few years. It’s going to be a while for people to dig themselves out of this during the pandemic. The pandemic took me back [financially].”

Venessa* says, ”Thank you. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart. I would like to keep receiving it.”

Adela*, the mother of one in California, would also like for the Child Tax Credit to be extended: “It would be good if it continued for longer. And that it was more money. Even if it was just $50 more. I know younger kids get $300 but I have an 11 year old, so I get $250. It’s better than nothing but with inflation, they should be more realistic with the amount. Inflation is eating all of us.

And Gwendolyn* “can’t thank the government enough,” adding “please make this an indefinite thing.”

* Name has been changed

Let’s connect

General Inquiries

For any questions, interest in partnership opportunities, or additional information, get in touch.

Monthly Newsletter

Sign-up to receive Propel's household impact newsletter for regular updates on how SNAP households are faring.