Greetings, Ask Carolyn readers. September is Hunger Awareness Month. Today’s blog explores the topic of single-parent poverty related to hunger issues and whether the American Rescue Plan will help reduce poverty. See the end of this blog for more information and links to resources.
Single parent poverty is a harsh reality that has a significant impact on families. Twenty-five percent of all families in America are single-parent households. Our country has more than three times the rate of single-parent households than others around the world. Looking deeper into the statistics shows that 80% of single-parent families are headed by the mother, with a poverty rate of 34%. (Chamie, 2021)
The United States Department of Agriculture surveys households annually to determine levels of food insecurity. In 2020, 10.5% of households experienced some food insecurity. When you factor in the rates for households headed by single parents, the rate is much higher at 27.7% for households headed by a single mom and 16.3% for households headed by a single dad. (USDA, n.d.)
As families have endured the hardships brought on by the pandemic and the resulting economic crisis, Congress approved the American Rescue Plan earlier this year to provide relief. This plan is designed to provide resources and relief to Americans and help families weather this ongoing crisis.
Will the American Rescue Plan help single-parent families?
There is no doubt that the impacts of the pandemic have created stress and hardship in our society, and single-parent families have been hurt deeply. An estimated 39 million households and 90% of the children in the United States receive relief monthly as of July 2021.
Under the American Rescue Plan, the Child Tax Credit has increased. For each child under age six, the credit is $3,600; for each child ages six through 17, the credit is $3,000. This type of relief in the past was available only after a tax return was filed. The difference today is that the payments are being sent from the IRS to families each month under the American Rescue Plan.
The IRS is now sending $250 per month per eligible child between ages of six and seventeen and $300 per month for each child under age six. The funds are deposited directly into bank accounts for families with children based on their 2019 or 2020 tax returns.
Earlier this year and in late 2020, the IRS sent stimulus checks to households based on recent tax returns. If you are owed child support, the IRS uses the tax intercept program to intercept stimulus checks from those behind on child support. This will help your ex get current on child support. For help finding your stimulus money, try https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment.
But what about those living in poverty?
In March 2021, the Urban Institute published an article titled “2021 Poverty Projections: Assessing Four American Rescue Plan Policies,” which assesses poverty based on the Supplemental Poverty Measure. The data shows that these new rescue plan policies are projected to cut child poverty by more than half. (Wheaton, Minton, Giannarelli, & Dwyer, 2021)
One fundamental way that the rescue plan will reduce poverty in single-parent families is through the increase in the child tax credit and through the monthly distribution of the resources. This, in turn, will help to decrease food insecurity.
As a strong advocate for women and children, I hope you will join me in raising awareness of the issues behind hunger and learning more about this topic. Woodruff Family Law Group is a proud sponsor of the annual PTI Run the Runway event, which helps raise funds for the Second Harvest Food Bank and Greensboro Urban Ministry.
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