The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) and the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), co-chairs of the Automatic Benefit for Children (ABC) Coalition and more than 120 national and state organizations call on the Biden Administration to include a permanent expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in their legislative priorities for the COVID recovery package to ensure reductions in child poverty and racial disparities continue beyond this year.
Since the Children’s Defense Fund last published our annual State of America’s Children report in February 2020, our children have experienced a year of unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial reckoning years in the making. Every aspect of children’s lives has been impacted by these shifts more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives. This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America’s Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear, “Our Children are Not Immune.”
Family First Prevention Services Act: Implementing the Provisions that Support Kinship Families Checklist
Family First Prevention Services Act makes historic reforms to the child welfare system to better support children, families, and kinship caregivers, and promote a kin-first culture. Many of the reforms have significant implications for connecting children to kinship caregivers and further promoting permanency through kin guardianships. This checklist is designed to help child welfare agency staff take advantage of provisions in the law to engage and support kinship families.
CDF Urges Congress to Ensure Children and Their Families Are Stably Housing During the Pandemic and Beyond
COVID-19 has exacerbated the nation’s affordable housing crisis—the result of a long history of racist housing policy including chronic underinvestment—the burden of which falls disproportionately on Black and Latino children. The emergency relief passed in December—which provided $25 billion in emergency rental assistance and extended the federal eviction moratorium—was a critical short-term step to protect the millions of families with children who are behind on their rent, but more must be done to ensure that these families emerge from the pandemic free from back rent and the looming threat of eviction.
Families need immediate support as they struggle with the costs of raising children in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and faltering economy. Ensuring that families have adequate support is especially important for the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and immigrant communities who have been hit hardest by the current economic and health crises, and who have too often been excluded from support and services. We urge Congress to act without delay to strengthen and expand the Child Tax Credit, and ensure that all children in need are able to regularly and easily access the benefit.
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which combines a $1.4 trillion year-end funding package with a $900 million dollar COVID-19 relief package. The law contains several important provisions related to the child welfare system.
CDF Joins Over 60 Organizations Urging the Incoming Administration to Establish Universal School Meals
We urge the Biden administration to work with Congress and take every administrative step possible to establish Universal School Meals. This would ensure that every child in the U.S. has access to the nutritious breakfast and lunch at school that can help support their academic success. School meals reduce childhood hunger, decrease childhood overweight and obesity, improve child nutrition and wellness, enhance child development and school readiness, and support learning, attendance, and behavior.
Official poverty data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on September 15, 2020 show nearly 10.5 million children in America lived in poverty in 2019, about 1.4 million fewer than in 2018. The national child poverty rate declined from 16.2 percent in 2018 to 14.4 percent in 2019. Although 2019 data show a decline in poverty numbers, these estimates do not reflect the current realities and heightened disparities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
CDF joins the call for Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Maternal Health Quality Improvement Act (H.R. 4995) and the bipartisan Helping MOMS Act of 2020 (H.R. 4996) as soon as possible. Final passage of H.R. 4995 and H.R. 4996 is a critical and foundational next step in Congress’ work to address maternal mortality and improve maternal health.
Regulations play an important role in implementing a wide range of HHS policies and programs serving children and families, including child care, substance use treatment, child welfare, food safety, and health care. CDF is very concerned that the proposed rule will disrupt the ability of the Department of Health and Human Services to efficiently administer critical programs and services for children and families and should be withdrawn immediately.