The expanded child tax credit beginning to hit families' mailboxes and bank accounts in July has the potential to cut child poverty by one-third in the Garden State — at least temporarily.

That's why advocates for New Jersey's youth are pushing to make this expansion a yearly, permanent perk.

"Basic necessities like housing are something that families have struggled with consistently prior to the pandemic and also currently as we move through the pandemic," said Alana Vega, of Newark-based Advocates for Children of New Jersey.

On Monday, the day the federal government launched a website explaining the boosted child tax credit, a state-by-state report was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, detailing the challenges that remain for children and families as New Jersey and other states continue their crawl out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Much of the data come from 2019, but some findings offer a more updated glimpse into families' financial woes. In March 2021, for example, 19% of New Jersey households with children reported having slight to no confidence in their ability to make their housing payment. In the same month, 20% of Garden State households with children reported feeling down, depressed or hopeless.

The report argues for making the child tax credit permanent. President Joe Biden has stated his support for extending the credit for years beyond 2021.

Starting in the middle of July, income-eligible families with children will be receiving $250 or $300 payments per child, based on each kid's age. These payments will run monthly through the end of the year. The American Rescue Plan increased the credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 for children aged 6 to 17 and from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under 6.

All working families will get the full credit if they make up to $150,000 for a couple or $112,500 for a family with a single parent, the website says. Tax relief typically comes the following year when families file their taxes. With this expansion, families are getting half of what they deserve ahead of time.

"The expanded child tax credit could potentially cut child poverty by one-third in New Jersey," said ACNJ President and CEO Cecilia Zalkind. "That is an astounding statistic, lifting more children out of poverty than the entire child population of Mercer County in one fell swoop."

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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