A Vincy family in Bushwick, Brooklyn was the only one among 25 families throughout the United States to be invited to the White House last Thursday when President Joseph Biden announced that tens of millions of families will get their first monthly Child Tax Credit Relief payment, thanks to the American Rescue Plan.
Lafleur Duncan told Caribbean Life on Tuesday that she and her son, Jordan, 13, were invited to the White House after she told her story on what she will do with the relief payments.
“It was a phenomenal time,” said Mrs. Duncan about the historic occasion. “The president is such a wonderful person. He spoke directly to me, held my hand.
“He spoke to my son,” she added. “My son felt good. He was really elated to be there. It was a good time. It was really good for us to be there.”
Mrs. Duncan said the unexpected journey to the White House resulted from joining a parents’ group, Parents Together, online through Jordan’s school, Brooklyn Laboratory Charter School, 77 Sands St., downtown Brooklyn.
She said that, in March 2020, Parents Together and another group, Mom Rising, reached out to her “to find out how we were doing and asked how the pandemic was affecting us.
“We had Zoom meetings telling us where we can get help during the pandemic,” Mrs. Duncan said. “They sent out emails for us to sign petitions and also to call our representatives, and tell them what the pandemic has done and where we need relief.
“I lost my job after being a nanny for over 30 years; so, my family was hit hard,” she disclosed. “The leaders of the groups asked me to share my story on how COVID affected my family; I did. The president signed a rescue plan bill into law; and, in that plan, the Child Tax Credit was included.
“We will love to have the tax credit break become permanent for our children, at least until they are 18 and ready to go off to college,” Mrs. Duncan continued. “The money will be used to prepare my son for school and to help put food on our table.”
She said that, after sharing her plans with the groups, she received a call from the head of the organizations to tell her story, at a press conference in Manhattan, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
“I told them we were thankful for what they were doing and how much we appreciate all the help, and we will love to have the Child Tax Credit become permanent,” Mrs. Duncan said. “President Biden wanted to have families join him on the said day, when the money was to be sent to the families’ (bank) accounts.”
In his White House address on Thursday, Jul. 15, Biden said: “I believe this is actually a historic day — a historic day in the sense that we continue to build an economy that respects and recognizes the dignity of working-class families and middle-class families.
“It’s historic, and it’s our effort to make another giant step toward ending child poverty in America,” he said. “I think this will be one of the things that the vice president and I will be most proud of when our terms are up.
“Beginning this morning, nearly all working families — that is people making under $150,000 as families or an individual making under $120,000 — $125,000 who have children, are raising children in America, they’re going to receive their first monthly tax cut payment, that payment from the expanded Child Tax Credit that we signed into law as part of my — our American Rescue Plan,” the president added.
He said it is one of the largest-ever single tax cuts for families with children, stating that “it’s a reflection of our belief that the people of this country who need a tax cut aren’t the folks at the top.
“They’ve got plenty of tax cuts; they’re doing just fine,” Biden said. “But it’s the people in the middle, the folks who are struggling, who are just looking for a little bit of — my dad would say, ‘a little bit of breathing room.’”
He said the expanded Child Tax Credit has the potential to reduce child poverty in the same way that the Social Security reduced poverty for the elderly.
Biden said that, for every child under the age of six, a parent will get $3,600 a year.
For every child 6 to 17, the parent will get $3,000 per year. For example, a middle-class family with two young children would expect to receive $7,200 a year to help raise their children.
“They’ll get the first half of this $3,600 starting today,” Biden said. “And it’ll be paid out at $600 a month between now, July and December. And then they’re going to get the rest of the payment next spring around Tax Day.
“Now, if you file taxes electronically, you can go to your bank account today, and you’ll see a payment that says ‘Child CTC,’” he added. “If you don’t file electronic — your taxes electronically, as you did last year, you can expect to receive a check in the mail beginning today or a few days from now. And you’ll get this payment on the 15th of every month for the rest of this year.
“And if you’re not required to file taxes at all in the past — you haven’t filed because you didn’t owe any taxes, then you can go to: ChildTaxCredit.gov,” Biden continued. “They’ll give you clear information and a link to help you sign up for the first time. This can be lifechanging for so many families.”
According to the White House Fact Sheet, over 97 percent of families receiving the 2021 Child Tax Credit are working families with wages or self-employment income.
For the families that don’t have income, the Treasury Department said many are seniors taking care of grandchildren or people with serious disabilities and health issues.
The department estimates that the hard-pressed low-income families of over 26 million children, who previously would have gotten a smaller Child Tax Credit than families with higher earnings, will now receive the full expanded Child Tax Credit.
Prior to the American Rescue Plan, researchers found that over half of Black and Hispanic children were in families ineligible for the full Child Tax Credit because of too little earnings, according to the White House.