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The American Rescue Plan’s Expanded Child Tax Credit Helped Struggling Families Weather the Pandemic
Personal Story

The American Rescue Plan’s Expanded Child Tax Credit Helped Struggling Families Weather the Pandemic

A single mother from West Virginia used her monthly child tax credit to keep food on the table and her car running.

The American Rescue Plan temporarily expanded the child tax credit (CTC) to help families through the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. For parents such as Stormy Johnson, the expanded credit was a lifeline, helping put food on the table.

Stormy Johnson pictured in January 2023. (Photo credit: Stormy Johnson)

A single mother to three children, Stormy Johnson lives paycheck to paycheck as a student support specialist for the schools in Preston County, West Virginia. After paying her family’s monthly bills, she sometimes has just $50 left over for food and other necessities—and over the years, she has often skipped meals so her kids can eat. When COVID-19 prompted local schools to switch to a virtual learning model in 2020, Stormy found herself traveling more for her job, which strained her old, sometimes unreliable car. So when Stormy received the first payment from the American Rescue Plan’s monthly CTC, she was grateful to have some much-needed relief. The CTC allowed Stormy to afford a down payment on a new vehicle and budget more for groceries so that she wouldn’t have to skip meals. During a pandemic that has posed sudden financial challenges for millions of American households, the CTC provided struggling families such as Stormy’s with more financial security. After the CTC’s expiration in December 2021, Stormy decided to share her story to advocate for a permanent expansion.

I was thankful to hear about the expanded child tax credit because I knew it would mean a little bit of breathing room for my family. Without it, I couldn’t afford my car payment. And I absolutely need a car for work, so it’s allowed me to keep my job so that I can keep putting food on the table for my kids. The rest of the CTC went to groceries because I don’t qualify for SNAP [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] and have two growing teenagers who could eat a horse. Stormy Johnson

The temporary expansion of the child tax credit enabled families to make ends meet as the country began to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. For many families, the extra money prevented food insecurity.

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