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3.7 million children plunged into poverty after Child Tax Credit expired, study says

February 22, 2022, 1:30 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Vice President Kamala Harris comments on the crisis in Ukraine, the Queen has COVID-19, and letting the child tax credit lapse comes with a real cost. Have a great Tuesday.

– The real cost. The debate over the child tax credit last year was mired in politics: What tradeoffs could convince centrist holdouts to back the program? What would its lapse mean for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda?

Often missing from the conversation was how the program’s expiration would affect families who rely on the monthly income. Two months later, we have that perspective—and it’s grim. About 3.7 million more children live below the poverty line, relative to December, after the program’s termination at the end of 2021, according to a new study by Columbia University Center on Poverty and Social Policy. Child poverty rose from 12.1% in December to 17% in January 2022, the highest rate since the end of 2020.

The loss hit Black and Latino children the hardest. Without the child tax credit, which provided low-income families with up to $300 per child, some 600,000 Black children slid below the poverty line for an increase of 30%, while the same occurred for 1.3 million Latino children, an increase of 43%.

Caregivers who received child tax credit payments—as 36 million households did, reaching 61 million children—say they relied on the checks to pay for necessities like housing, clothes, utilities and food. “I would use those payments to save, to get us a new place. It really would be used in a great way,” Brittany Baker, an Ohio mom of four who received $900 a month for the six-month duration of the program, told Bloomberg.

The child tax credit was an advance on tax refunds, so parents and guardians will receive the remaining funds in their upcoming tax returns. Despite praise for how the nationwide child tax credits would cut poverty in half, Congress failed to reach a consensus on how to extend it before the end of last year. As some lawmakers look to revive the benefit, one thing is clear: the monthly payments demonstrated what a solid caregiving infrastructure can accomplish in the U.S. After its discontinuation, the Columbia study shows us the cost.

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- That's a wrap. The Beijing Olympics came to a close this weekend, with the figure skating debacle summing up the "grim" atmosphere at the Games. Team USA nabbed 25 medals, 17 of which were won by women. One of the most accomplished Olympic athletes this year, though, was Germany's Alexandra Burghardt who competed in both Tokyo and Beijing. The sprinter took up bobsledding just in time to win silver at the winter Games. 

- Diplomatic crisis. Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Europe as the crisis in Ukraine escalated this weekend. At the Munich Security Conference, the VP acknowledged the "real possibility of war" and made the case for economic penalties against Russia if necessary. AP

- Reproductive rights. Colombia legalized abortion through 24 weeks yesterday, becoming the latest Latin American country after Mexico and Argentina to decriminalize the procedure. Feminist activists in Colombia say they'll keep fighting for full decriminalization of abortion. CNN

- COVID and the queen. Queen Elizabeth II tested positive for COVID-19, Buckingham Palace confirmed this weekend. The palace says that the monarch, who is 95 and celebrating 70 years on the throne, is suffering "mild cold-like symptoms." CNN

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Bakersfield affiliate 23ABC promoted Veronica Placencia to news director. Welcome.US, an organization supporting Afghan refugees, hired WAMU chief content officer Monna Kashfi as VP of content and communications. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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- Page-turner. The Britney book is on the way. Pop star Britney Spears has reportedly signed a $15 million deal with Simon & Schuster, led by publisher Dana Canedy. The memoir will cover the singer's "professional and personal lives," and will likely touch on her recently-ended conservatorship. Deadline

- Cancel culture? Dave Chapelle's last Netflix special prompted widespread backlash and an employee walkout over the comedian's anti-trans remarks. But the streamer is re-upping its commitment to Chapelle, signing him for four more comedy specials. The Hollywood Reporter

ON MY RADAR

The long-haul symptoms of being a COVID-era mom Jezebel

Why we love lazy, drunk, broke women on TV New York Times

The boys who cried 'dox!' The Information

Rihanna's Fenty Beauty is heading to Ulta MarketWatch

PARTING WORDS

"I can just go right back to what pushed me toward writing those words."

-Stevie Nicks, on her relationship to her songs, like "Dreams," that have become huge hits. 

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