In 2021, many Arizona families with children were able to claim additional aid from the expanded Child Tax Credit in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The stimulus bill increased the Child Tax Credit to up to $3,600 per child, and expanded qualification to 17 year-olds. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Research found that the expanded monthly payments significantly reduced the monthly child poverty rate in-state, while helping families afford basic needs such as food, utilities, clothing, rent, and education-related costs.
In a joint report by Washington University and Appalachian State University, data showed that many families in Arizona primarily used this extra income to purchase food (52 percent), manage bills (39 percent), and pay for clothing and other essentials for their children (35 percent). Another report showed that the expanded CTC also reduced racial disparities in childhood poverty levels, helping lift many Black and Latino children above the federal poverty line.
This was good news for the 11.6 percent of Maricopa residents who live below the federal poverty line. However, due to opposition to President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda at the senate level of Congress, the expanded Child Tax Credit has not been extended in 2022, leaving experts concerned that childhood poverty rates will rise again, and leave many low income families in Arizona to struggle again, and undo much of the progress made in reducing child poverty levels in 2021.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has recommended that the Child Tax Credit on a federal level should be expanded, but that states could also create, or improve upon, their own Child Tax Credits to help low income families. The report notes that expanding these credits at both state and federal levels provides an opportunity for policymakers to help the development of children now and moving forward, as well as help families and communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.