Report: Child Tax Credit to Benefit More than 90% of Maine Kids
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
AUGUSTA, Maine -- Child wellbeing in Maine improved between 2010 and 2019, according to a new annual report, but advocates for children and families say the pandemic has highlighted the need for strong support.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Book shows that in 2019, 14% of Maine children were living in poverty, although that number is down from 2010, but 6% of children lacked health insurance, more than in 2010.
Helen Hemminger, research and KIDS COUNT associate for the Maine's Children Alliance, said bold policies are needed.
"It's clear that the pandemic has laid bare existing issues or economic disparities or racial divides," Hemminger asserted. "But we're looking to do more to make it better for those who face so much, particularly families with young children."
According to the latest Census Bureau national survey, Black and Latino households with children reported far more concerns than white households on issues ranging from mental health and accessing health insurance to ability to pay their rent or mortgage on time and put food on the table.
The American Rescue Plan included an expansion of the Child Tax Credit, from $2,000 annually to up to $3,600 per child depending on their age.
Hemminger pointed to data that showed 91% of Maine kids will benefit from the tax credit.
"We expect 10,000 children to be lifted up out of poverty due to the child tax credits that are coming forward next month in July," Hemminger predicted. "We have currently about 33,000 children in poverty."
Leslie Boissiere, vice president of external affairs for the Foundation, urged policymakers to make the child tax credit permanent. She added children who grow up in poverty often have worse health outcomes.
"They live in substandard housing that has issues like mold and lead that go untreated," Boissiere explained. "Lower-income families live in poorer neighborhoods that have poorer-resourced schools, so their education outcomes tend to be worse."
Even before COVID-19 disrupted education, 13% of Maine high school students were not graduating on time, and last fall, nearly half of Maine families where at least one person planned to pursue higher education canceled their plans or reduced their class load.
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