While the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion Covid rescue package or the American Rescue Plan had something for everyone hit by the COVID-19 pandemic – from out-of-work individuals to small businesses facing an uncertain future to cities and states struggling to cope – America’s families would emerge as the biggest winners, set to reap benefits in many ways, USA Today reported.
ARP Seen To Offer A Big Helping Hand To Families Struggling To Cope
A number of the provisions of the law, including an expansion in child tax credit, had already been the focus of much attention. The provision, however, also covered childcare funding, remote learning and reopening of schools, one of the more important social infrastructure components supporting a better future for children.
According to Katherine Gallagher, director of childcare at the Center for Law and Social Policy, it was a transformative bill for families. She added it would prove to be a game-changer.
Indeed, the most popular of the ARP’s provisions, including benefits against extended unemployment, direct payments of $1,400 to adults and each of the children in the family, rental assistance to cover emergency and subsidies on health care, also supported families, according to Gallagher.
However, Democrats in Congress had laid it out generously, lending a big helping hand to families and kids, especially to those from lower-income brackets who had been hit hardest by the pandemic.
The child tax credit was hiked to $3000 per eligible child from $2,000 and $3,600 per child from $3000 per eligible child under 6. For individuals, the credit began to phase out at an income of more than $75,000 a year, and for married couples filing jointly, the corresponding figure was $150,000.
What is perhaps most significant is that the credit is refundable, which meant Americans with low-incomes, and also no or little income could receive the allowance in full.
The changes would see nearly 10 million children lifted above the poverty line or closer to it. While the expansion applied only for this year, Democrats had said they would seek a permanent status for it.
Gallagher said it was a great poverty buster.
Meanwhile, the child and dependent care tax credit, which helped to defray expenses incurred toward childcare, was upped from $2100 to $4,000 for one child. For two or more children, it was $8,000. It was also fully refundable, so no income or little income families could still benefit. Furthermore, families with incomes as much as $125,000 would also be eligible for the full credit, as against the $15,000 cap.
But that was not all the ARP came with many other goodies for families:
- K-12 schools would receive $125 billion for safe reopening. The money would go toward funding additional space for social distancing, classes for catching up on losses due to the pandemic, and support against local and state budget cuts.
- The ARP makes a $39 billion provision for childcare, which includes $24 billion for financially stressed childcare providers toward rent and mortgage payments, personal protective equipment, labor costs, and other expenses. Funding to the tune of $15 billion has been earmarked for subsidizing childcare costs of eligible families. An estimated 875,000 children would benefit from the provision.
- Around 12 million children in public schools lived in households that had no internet connection or devices for distance-learning. Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission would provide $7.2 billion to help libraries and schools ensure such kids’ participation in remote learning.
- Universities and colleges would receive around $40 billion with half to be made available for financial aid grants for students who needed help with costs of college, food, health care, and housing.
- With families facing increased stress in the pandemic, the legislation made a $350 million provision for the community- programs aimed at the prevention of child abuse and services that addressed domestic violence.