In July 2021, the American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit (CTC) to increase payments and ease eligibility requirements in efforts to support more families across America.
Some key changes included increasing the credit to up to $3,600 per child, expanding the child age eligibility to include children aged 17 and under (previously 16 and under), allowing automatic advanced payments every month, and removing the income requirements in order to support families with little or no income.
Partnering on Outreach
At that time in San Diego County, it was estimated that up to 25,000 children were at risk of missing out on the expanded CTC and up to $140 million could be left on the table for families in the region.
Through generous donations from The David and Lucille Packard Foundation and the EITC Funders Network, the San Diego Foundation Healthy Children & Families Initiative granted a total of $270,000 to community-based organizations to provide outreach and help families claim the expanded CTC.
According to early research on the impacts of the CTC by the National Bureau of Economic Research, increased CTC payments and the easing of eligibility requirements impacted families most deeply by strongly reducing food insufficiency for low-income families with children.
While the expanded CTC could theoretically help lift millions of families out of poverty in 2021, the challenge for SDF and its partners was reaching the newly eligible families and helping them claim the credit.
Rising to the Challenge
Thanks to the SDF partnership with San Diego County’s Community Health Worker Collaborative throughout the pandemic, SDF was quickly able to mobilize and provide one-year grants to each of the 13 coalition member organizations for outreach on expanded CTC eligibility.
At the start of the pandemic, the Community Health Worker Collaborative conducted outreach to communities about COVID-19 disease prevention and care, with their work later expanded to include basic needs referrals, such as food assistance. The collaborative was uniquely positioned to provide assistance.
Their outreach truly made a difference to many low-income families throughout the county. In fact, more than 150 community health workers representing outreach in 15 languages used social media, in-person events, fliers, website outreach, text and phone calls, emails and posters in their communities to spread the word about the expanded CTC.
Their efforts resulted in:
- 466,674 engagements with children and families
- 9,204 families receiving language assistance to apply for the expanded CTC
- 12,486 families referred for free tax prep services
- $1,400,000+ received in tax credits (CTC, Earned Income Tax Credit, etc.)
Due to the success of the SDF grant-funded tax assistance programs, SDF provided six of the original CTC partners with grants to continue their work, including:
- Casa Familiar
- Global Communities
- SBCS (formerly South Bay Community Services)
- Somali Family Service of San Diego
- United Women of East Africa Support Team
- Vista Community Clinic
Each organization will continue to provide outreach and education during the current tax season through May 2023. Additionally, they will host community-based tax events in partnership with local IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, or VITA, sites.
SDF is also partnering with United Way of San Diego County to provide grant support for its Connect2Refunds program to expand the San Diego Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Coalition, which completed a total of 21,262 federal tax returns and 20,111 state tax returns during the 2022 tax season and resulted in more than $10,000,000 in tax credits.
As part of the grant-funded work, the coalition will expand to include the six CTC partners and provide additional expertise and technical assistance for EITC and CTC outreach, education and event planning. By doing so, the coalition is able to expand its reach and connect partners with mobile IRS VITA sites, tax advocacy organizations and other helpful resources. To access tax preparation resources or learn more about VITA eligibility, visit the 2-1-1 San Diego website.
Healthy Children & Families
Launched in the fall of 2021 with our child tax credit outreach project, the Healthy Children & Families Initiative supports the SDF Strategic Plan by advancing community resilience through health equity and increases the quality of life for children and families through expanded access to supportive services, including:
- Connection to direct financial assistance
- Equitable access to affordable and high-quality healthcare, including mental and behavioral health services
- Addressing trauma and increasing access to equity-centered, trauma-informed services for children and families
Learn more about the Healthy Children & Families Initiative.