This Study Might Prove the Child Tax Credit Helps Babies in Poor Families

A new study from researchers, including a Duke University team, found some astounding impacts on babies when poor mothers are given cash aid. (Shutterstock)

By Sarah Ovaska

January 25, 2022

Researchers tested the benefits of giving cash to low-income moms. The results are astounding.

Turns out those child tax credit payments help. A lot.

A study published this week found the brains of babies whose moms got $333 payments had higher activity levels than babies whose mothers got just $20 each month.

Growing up in poverty leaves kids more prone to chronic stress, behavioral problems, lower academic success and a lifetime of health challenges. 

That was why researchers from six colleges, including Duke University, set out to see if monthly cash payments to poor moms helped babies in their first year.

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Though just one study, it could help boost President Joe Biden’s push to bring back the popular monthly child tax credit payments in 2022. Parents and guardians got $250 to $300 monthly per child from July to December, an advance on increased tax credits for kids that passed as part of Congress and Biden’s pandemic relief package.

Childhood poverty dropped by more than 40% in the U.S. because of those payments.

Democrats in Congress and Biden wanted the child tax credits to continue in 2022, but resistance to Biden’s Build Back Better plan from Senate Republicans like Thom Tillis and Richard Burr and one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has put that on hold.

Their refusal took away relief for up to 35 million eligible families, who are feeling the pinch this January. It’s the first time in six months the payments will not go out.

“The risks for children of experiencing poverty are very high since the onset of the pandemic, and even higher for Black, Latinx and children from underrepresented groups whose families have been hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Lisa Gennetian, a Duke professor and study co-author.  

But supports like stimulus checks and the child tax credit “are really helping families with children to buy food or pay rent,” she said.

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