SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — As kids at the Spring Point Children's Center in South Portland finished playing at the playground outside, Maine's Governor Janet Mills and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree held a roundtable discussion inside.
The focus of the conversation: the expanded Child Tax Credit. Pingree, a Democrat representing Maine's First District said 215,000 Maine children qualified for the payments in July, the first date checks were sent out.
The expanded Child Tax Credit is sent out to qualified families monthly but will run out at the end of the year. That was the other reason these elected officials' held this event, to speak with local parents and learn more.
“Allowing parents to decide how to use it, how best to support their family and support their children with and being able to do that on a monthly basis rather than once a year, I think is really important," Lindsey Clancy said after the discussion.
An average of $415 was distributed to qualified families. Clancy and Allie Casciotti said the payments will allow them to better budget for child care fees.
“We paid $18,300 and change for daycare for the year," Clancy said.
“I pay $416 a week to put two kids through daycare," Casciotti added.
With financial support, Casciotti said she feels more emotionally supported. She added she is going back to school to pursue her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy.
“For having two young daughters I think they get to see me as a role model pursuing my dreams," she said.
The challenge these parents and elected officials now face is making this extension permanent. Lawmakers in Washington have a lot on their plate between infrastructure and reconciliation packages, but Pingree is confident they can work this into the equation.
“So, this is the Congress that has to say, we have to fix these things going forward so we don’t continue to have families that are vulnerable anytime there’s a pandemic, there’s a blip, there’s an employment crisis, whatever it is," Pingree said.
The House of Representatives is expected to meet in D.C. next week.