PHILADELPHIA – July 13, 2021 – Today, State Senator Art Haywood (D-Montgomery/Philadelphia) hosted a press conference and rally, in partnership with Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike, to call for permanent Child Tax Credit payments. The event was held at Maplewood Mall, a historic shopping district in the Germantown section of Northwest Philadelphia. Global Women’s Strike Philadelphia operates out of the Crossroads Women’s Center, located at 33 Maplewood Mall.
Organizations present at the rally included Community Legal Services, Crossroads Women’s Wellness, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network, Family Practice & Counseling Network, First Up, For Our Future, 99% PA, Perfectly Flawless, Purple House Project, and Tax March. The event was held to raise awareness about the expanded Child Tax Credit, and to call on Congress and the Biden Administration to make the policy permanent, as part of the national “Keeping Families Afloat” Week of Action across 26 states.
Notable speakers at the event included State Representative Christopher Rabb (D-Philadelphia), Netta Johnson, Chief of Staff for Councilmember Cindy Bass (D-Philadelphia), and Lawanda Horton Sauter, a spokesperson for State Representative Darisha Parker (D-Philadelphia).
Janielle Edmonds, Communications Director for Senator Haywood, delivered remarks on the Senator’s behalf. “The Child Tax Credit can be the difference between food, water, and clothing for thousands of families,” said Senator Haywood.
The American Rescue plan expanded the 2021 Child Tax Credit to provide much needed relief to 36 million eligible families nationwide. Instead of waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the full Child Tax Credit, 90 percent of families with children will receive advanced payments. Low-and-moderate income neighbors with dependents aged 17 or younger will receive half of their credit in the form of monthly payments. The other half will be paid in a lump sum when families file their 2021 taxes next spring.
Starting on July 15 and through December 2021, eligible neighbors will receive up to $250 per school-aged child and up to $300 per child under six per month. The IRS will send payments by direct deposit or check, depending on how neighbors filed taxes. Even neighbors with no income may claim the credit.
The office of Senator Haywood stood with community leaders and organizations not only to support making this tax credit permanent, but to ensure the primary caregiver receives the payment.
“We are campaigning for the Child Tax Credits to become permanent and to go directly to the primary caregiver, which is the best way to recognize the essential caregiving work mothers/primary caregivers are doing, ensure that the money benefits the children, and protect women from domestic violence by not having the primary breadwinner, usually a man, in charge of the money,” said Vanette Jordan-Lumogo of Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike. “One in four women are victims of domestic violence, and 70 percent of the poor are women and children in the United States. We are glad to be sponsoring this event with Senator Art Haywood on child tax credits – children need it and mothers have earned it!”
One of the event organizers expressed how critical it is to get the word out about the new Child Tax Credit. “We are also pressing to make it much easier for low-income people to access the credits,” said Phoebe Jones of the Crossroad’s Women’s Center and Care Income Now! of Global Women’s Strike. “Half don’t know about it, 43 percent don’t have access to computers or broadband, many don’t have a permanent home address, and others have experiences that make them reluctant to come forward to get it.”
Child Tax Credit advocates traveled from across the state to fight for primary caregiver payments. “When my children were young, both of my ex-husbands controlled the taxes and I used to have to beg them for money for the children and me,” said Jennina Gorman, a mother of children with disabilities from Altoona, Pa. “We got about $1000 in child tax credits, but one of my ex-husbands blew the money on fancy shoes for himself, and the other one used it to buy himself an electric guitar, when the kids needed new glasses. That’s what happens when the money doesn’t go to the primary caregiver.”
A grandmother from North Philadelphia, who formerly lived in Germantown, shared how crucial advanced payments are. “I have custody of my grandchildren,” said Carolyn Hill. “Child Tax Credits will help me pay the bills, keep my cable on for them, and help me buy clothes for them or take them to the amusement park. If I had had tax credits earlier, child welfare might not have taken nieces from me because I would have had more money, and I would have been able to pay my water bill and not had to move out of my house of 21 years.”
Statewide organizations expressed their support for a permanent Child Tax Credit to help reduce poverty. Jeff Garis, Federal Campaigns and Program Director for the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center stated the following:
“Just as the creation of Social Security significantly reduced poverty among America’s seniors, so too the American Rescue Plan’s expansion of the Child Tax Credit is profoundly decreasing child poverty in the United States. Here in Pennsylvania, more than 140,000 children are being lifted out of poverty, significantly improving their health and educational prospects, which will have a lifelong impact on their overall wellbeing. Thanks to the expansion of the CTC, families will be able to give their kids a stronger, healthier start on their path to a bright and promising future. These temporary improvements to the CTC should be made permanent in the recovery legislation that is advancing in Congress.”
On Tuesday afternoon, primary caregivers, mothers, and children attended this outdoor community outreach event and urged for support. “Please care about us,” said Marina Dominguez Cifuentes, a mother and domestic violence survivor from West Philadelphia. Organizations provided attendees with free food, clothing, and literature at the event.
Community Legal Services is committed to spreading the word about the payments. “The bright promise of the Advanced Child Tax Credit, which has the potential drastically reduce childhood poverty, won’t be realized unless families know about it and sign up,” said a representative from Community Legal Services, SSI Unit. “Community Legal Services was excited to join the Rally for Child Checks and talk with families directly about how to get the Advanced Child Tax Credit.”
Community Legal Services also offered neighbors in-person assistance with legal matters, utility issues, and access to benefits. “In addition to the financial stressors of the pandemic, many low-income families are also facing the loss of utility services in the middle of a heat wave,” said a representative from Community Legal Services, Energy Unit. “We have the opportunity to share information about avoiding shutoff at this event. Families who are facing difficulties with their utilities can reach CLS by calling (215) 981-3700.”
The advanced Child Tax Credit payments will reach residents across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania starting on Thursday. Senator Haywood will continue to advocate for legislation that helps communities recover from the devastating pandemic. To check eligibility and manage payments, families may visit www.irs.gov.