A new analysis published on Friday confirmed that the number of American households with children who report not having enough to eat has increased in the months since Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia joined Senate Republicans in refusing to extend the tax credit for children expanded beyond mid-December.
“Continued CTC advance payments could help children avoid food insufficiency, with immediate and lifelong personal and societal benefits.”
Data from the Household Pulse Survey (HPS), a nationally representative online survey conducted by the US Census Bureau, shows that from April 27 to May 9, 15% of households with children reported food insufficiency, defined as sometimes or often not having enough food to eat in the past week. At the beginning of August, the percentage of families with children who reported fighting against hunger been about 9.5%.
Food has become more expensive in recent months as a handful of grocery giants and meat, egg and dairy conglomerates have hiked prices while slashing pay for frontline workers and raking in record profits amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But Manchin and the GOP’s decision to allow the enhanced CTC benefit to expire at the end of last year makes it even harder for millions of families to make ends meet.
Right-wing lawmakers let the expanded CTC expire despite widespread evidence that the popular measure has improved the lives of children across the country. In January, the first month since July 2021 that eligible families did not receive a monthly payment of up to $300 per child, 3.7 million children were pushed into poverty.
In a guest blog post published Friday by the Economic Policy Institute, Julia Raifman, assistant professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, and Allison Bovell-Ammon, director of policy strategy for Children’s HealthWatch at Boston Medical Center, wrote:
In previous work using HPS data, we found that the advance CTC was associated with a 26% decrease in food insufficiency in households with children compared to households without children. Our results were consistent with those of other researchers, who found that advanced CTC was associated with a 25% reduction in poverty and improvement of food quality for kids.
In a new pre-print using HPS data, we find that CTC advance expiration was associated with a 12% increase of food insufficiency in households with children compared to households without children in February – and food insufficiency rates have continued to rise since February.
“Although HPS data is not directly comparable to data collected before the pandemic,” noted Raifman and Bovell-Ammon, “rates of food insufficiency in March-April 2022 were approximately three to four times pre-pandemic levels.”
“Food insufficiency among families with children poses a short- and long-term moral and economic threat to the United States,” they wrote. “Even brief interruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences.”
The couple continued: “Not having enough to eat often disrupts the cognitive and emotional development of children and education. This was the case of a child who revealed that the reason she was fidgeting and not paying attention in class was that she didn’t have enough to eat. Not having enough to eat in childhood can have lifelong ramifications, including an increased likelihood of bad health results and avoidables medical expenses throughout life.”
Despite Manchin’s baseless and dehumanizing claim that parents used federal government money to buy drugs, Raifman and Bovell-Ammon pointed out that multiple analyzes “indicate that low-income families have massively used payments advances from the CTC on basic needs for children, including food, rent, utilities, clothing, and tuition. There is also no proof suggesting reduced employment among parents of families receiving CTC payments. »
It’s not too late, Raifman and Bovell-Ammon pointed out, for Manchin and the GOP to change course.
“As Congress turns its attention to the next reconciliation package, there is an opportunity to restore the CTC’s extended monthly payments,” the two men wrote. “In a context of continued inflation, growing food insufficiency in households with children and the Covid-19 pandemic which continues to affect work, health and economycontinued CTC advance payments could help children avoid food insufficiency, with immediate and lifelong personal and societal benefits.”
“The most recent wave of HPS data,” noted Raifman and Bovell-Ammon, “shows that food inadequacy is concentrated in low-income households with children.”
“Implementing an expanded CTC without exclusions due to work or immigration status will best reach children from families who need it most, benefiting all children and society,” they added. “While some policymakers have considered work requirements to receive CTC benefits, these requirements have an impact administrative burden for States and families who often stop those who most need the benefits to receive them and results in negative results.”