It’s a nationwide program, but in California’s 26th Congressional District – which includes Thousand Oaks and Oxnard – nearly 40,000 households, including 145,000 children, are eligible for the expanded and improved child tax credit.
Westlake Village Democratic Congresswoman Julia Brownley says the extra money is needed more than ever to help families.
“For many families, it is 30 to 40 percent of their income to pay for childcare, which is enormous. It is very expensive. That is why the federal government must be able to step in.
“It’s a small upfront investment and a big investment in return. Once you get people into the workplace and start making money, the economy is better and everyone benefits,” she said.
(LR) Petra Puls from First 5 Ventura County, Maricela Morales from CAUSE, Democratic Congressman Julia Brownley from Westlake Village, Eric Harrison from United Way of Ventura County
The child tax credit has increased from $ 2,000 per child to $ 3,600 for each child under 6 years of age and to $ 3,000 for each child 6 to 16 years of age.
Monthly prepayments of up to $ 300 per child per month begin Thursday.
Petra Puls, the general manager of First 5 Ventura County, welcomes the cash boost for families.
“In our district there are pockets of very great poverty,” says Puls. “What we know about poverty is that it has direct effects on the developing brain. But it has long-term implications for social mobility, health, and academic outcomes.
“When we put all of this together, children who grow up in poverty are just not as likely to be successful in school and at work as those of their middle- or higher-income peers.
“This child tax deduction can really help families lift them out of poverty and give them a head start to become financially stable,” said Puls.
Maricela Morales works with low-income and underserved families in Ventura County – she is the executive director of the Central Coast Alliance for a Sustainable Economy – known as CAUSE.
“Low wage workers and minimum wage workers – especially women – are hardest hit [by the pandemic]“Says Morales.
“The loss of employment, the loss of wages, the lack of unemployment insurance for immigrant families has been a threefold blow.
“We wish we had this from last March, but it’s a huge help, especially for immigrant families.”
United Way of Ventura County helps families file their taxes and apply for qualifying credits. Eric Harrison is the President and CEO. He says that with COVID-19, “everyone was just struggling to get through”.
“Basic needs and food insecurity are a really big problem in Ventura County,” says Harrison. “Housing is a really big issue in Ventura County. We have seen a rise in homelessness.”
He says it helps a lot to “have something like that where there is tax relief out there that gets more money back into the pockets of working families.”