The Catalyst Center at Boston University hosted a webinar on Tuesday, April 4th 2023, titled The Impact of the Expanded Child Tax Credit (CTC) on Families Raising Children with Disabilities. The webinar highlighted the findings from a recent research project in collaboration with the Catalyst Center, the Social Policy Institute at Washington University of St. Louis, and Appalachian State University.

The researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,700 CTC recipients before the payments began and after the last installment in 2021.They found that most families reported using funds on routine expenses and saw significant improvements in food and financial security. Families raising children with disabilities were more likely to receive the CTC and they were also more likely to use CTC for broad purposes. These include routine expenses, essential items, food, debt payments, childcare expenses, health expenses, home improvements, and tutoring. Families raising children with disabilities also felt greater relief from the CTC because they are more likely to have difficulty paying medical bills, have higher health care costs, higher routine expenditures, and loss of employment income from having to cut back hours. Low-income and non-white families raising children with disabilities reported even greater impacts as they were able to invest in filling educational gaps through tutoring and extracurriculars.

These positive findings have substantial policy implications for the future. The fact that CTC funds can be used for any purpose was highly beneficial as it allowed parents raising children with disabilities to meet their unique needs. Removing income and working requirements was especially helpful for families raising children with disabilities and it helped lead to decreases in poverty, food insecurity, mental health problems and depression. Families with children with disabilities used CTC funds differently than other families and had greater financial impacts. These outcomes are consistent with prior research on family financial hardship and the effects of the CTC.

By Ava Cloghessy, Policy Interns