By Skylar Eagle
MERCER COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — The pandemic changed life for millions of Americans across the nation. Utility and food bills increased with more time spent at home, causing more financial stress for millions of families. Here in the Mountain State, one woman said Congressional action made a huge difference.
“Ask them how much a gallon of milk costs, do you know?” Becky Dillon said. “If you don’t know, good. You don’t have to worry about it. I know because I have to worry about it.”
Dillon has been working from home since the start of the pandemic and her 10-year-old daughter learns remotely. She said utility bills and household expenses increased because of more time spent at home. She said she is able to pay those bills because of the Child tax Credit expansion passed by Congress in March of 2021. Every month, she receives $250, which normally comes in a lump sum after tax season.
“Really it just helps alleviate the stress that we know comes from or comes with the added utility bills,” Dillon said.
As of September 2021, monthly payments are only available for one year, but lawmakers are considering an expansion. The Executive Director for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, Kelly Allen, said the expansion would help struggling families in Southern West Virginia.
“This is making a significant difference in folks lives,” Allen said. “So just the opportunity to make such a big difference in the lives of so many West Virginia kids is really, really important.”
Dillon receives help from a nonprofit called SaverLife which helps members build financial security. The Director of Policy and Systems Change at SaverLife, Radha Seshagiri, said expanding the Child Tax Credit will help reduce child poverty by almost 50 percent.
“It’s important as we come out of the pandemic and look forward to recovery,” Seshagiri explained. “We need to bring up all of those children and make sure that they have a strong future and we need to help families.”
The Child Tax Credit Expansion is up for debate again in Congress as part of the $3.5 trillion American Families Plan. The fate of that bill is still unknown.