The COVID-19 pandemic exposed vast social and economic inequities in the US, which prompted unprecedented relief policies that, for one year, brought child poverty to its lowest levels in decades. However, as the economy enters a new phase of robust job growth, high inflation, and ongoing economic uncertainty about future COVID-19 outbreaks, outcomes for children living in poverty hang in the balance.
- Consensus exists among stakeholders with diverse ideological views on the longterm benefits of providing support in early childhood and the need to do more to support children in poverty.
- Deep disagreements remain around how to design and deliver support to families, what impact cash support may have on labor supply, whether programs should be targeted or universal, how much the programs will ultimately cost, how to raise the revenue to pay for programs, and how long-term benefits might offset near-term costs.
- More research is needed on how cash supports impact families and communities differently by race and ethnicity, including who is excluded from benefits by design or as a result of program complexity, particularly those administered through the tax system.
- Despite the scale and effectiveness of its rollout, the CTC expansion did not generate a strong new base of public support. Moving forward, more research is needed to understand how messaging and outreach can affect program take-up and support.
- Greater incorporation of affected communities is required in designing family cash-assistance programs for maximum impact and in informing the research on the impacts of these programs.