Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Tax credit could lift many Pa. children from poverty


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
March 11, 2021
Child credit, housing concerns, angry allies, taking a toll, call waiting, legal review, new history, and an extreme gathering of geese. It's Thursday.

The newly approved $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package includes more money to boost unemployment payments, $13 billion for Pennsylvania governments, direct stimulus payments, and a one-year, $100-billion expansion of the child tax credit with historic implications for child poverty in the U.S., supporters say.

Under that expansion, the size of the credit is going up, 17-year-olds now qualify, a $2,500 earnings floor is gone, and the credit is now fully refundable. But most critically, qualifying families will begin receiving monthly, no-strings-attached payments — think of it as an advance worth up to $250 per child 6 and older and $300 per younger child — as soon as this summer. (That's in addition to the direct stimulus payments also included in the $1.9 trillion plan. Those are expected to go out later this month.)  

You can calculate your share of the expanded child tax credit here, via the Washington Post.

THE CONTEXT: The money is, in effect, guaranteed income for the parents of 93% of American kids, some 69 million people total, and, as NPR reports, that's a revolutionary act in America with implications well beyond the expanded credit's 2021 sunset. Millions of children will be lifted from poverty inside of a year, experts say, including scores in Pennsylvania, which claims the 9th highest total of impoverished children in the country, per USA Today.

All of this is temporary, mind you. But newly empowered Democrats say they'll work to make it permanent. “It has a big impact on people’s lives,” Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, told the Post-Gazette. 

Lisa Palmieri, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania, added, “It will be life-changing for families."


“Going up and down the steps, I’d have to stop … and kind of sit on the edge of the step and catch my breath."

—U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Butler) on the lasting impacts of his COVID-19 infection last spring 
VACCINE UPDATE: Retailer Target has joined the U.S. vaccine distribution chain, turning fitting rooms at some 600 stores nationwide, including some in Pennsylvania, into sites for vaccine appointments booked through its partner organization, CVS. For vaccine providers, check Spotlight PA's map and county-by-county listing.
» Redistricting in Pennsylvania: Join us at 5 p.m. March 16 for a Capitol Live by Spotlight PA expert panel on redistricting, gerrymandering, and its impact on Pennsylvania communities. RSVP FOR FREE NOW »»
POST IT: Thanks, @pabucketlist, for this amazing view of the Mapleton Overlook along the Standing Stone Trail in Huntingdon County. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us at @spotlightpennsylvania.

HIGH ANXIETY: What will happen when federal bans on foreclosures and evictions end? The Post-Gazette says housing counselors are unsure but bracing for the worst, with one expert calling the bans a "shot of Novocain" that's about to wear off. In August, Spotlight PA found that Pennsylvania’s primary effort to help renters pay their bills was doomed from the start

FRIENDLY FIRE: Some allies are knocking the Wolf administration's vaccine rollout amid an imbroglio about the number of doses being sent to four suburban Philadelphia counties, The Inquirer reports. Four members of Congress urged Gov. Tom Wolf to review his plan and “improve upon its weakness,” while one likened finding a dose to a “scavenger hunt.” 

BRIDGE TOO FAR: The chair of the Pennsylvania Senate's Transportation Committee wants to stop PennDOT from adding tolls to nine bridges across the state — an idea that would raise $2.2 billion for construction projects — the Associated Press reports. The plan was approved by a board created in 2012 by the Republican-controlled legislature. But now, some GOP lawmakers are having second thoughts.

WRONG NUMBER: Vaccine hopefuls were disappointed to find an incoming call from "Johnson and Johnson" was actually the Bucks County GOP looking for primary petition signatures. One Perkasie social media user said their elderly parents saw the call ID display and picked up expecting a vaccine update, the Courier Times reports. A GOP spokesperson blamed an "unintended technological error.”

ON APPEAL: Six months after Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Mark V. Tranquilli resigned his seat over revelations of racist behavior, a Black Pittsburgher he convicted on marijuana charges is asking for a new trial. It is likely to be the first of many such requests as Tranquilli's departure prompts a reevaluation of his legal record, TribLive reports. 


WALKING TOUR: A self-guided, anti-slavery walking tour features eight Underground Railroad sites in Upper Darby and the stories of several prominent abolitionist families, WHYY reports. Not every location along the 4.5-mile route has been protected or preserved — one former abolitionist meeting place is now a parking lot — but many historical markers and buildings remain.

NEW HISTORY: The state's first Chinese workforce, the founder of a pioneering Black fraternity, and early American female composers are among the newest recipients of historical markers in Pennsylvania. The new crop was announced by the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, which last year launched a review of historical markers "deemed inaccurate or incompatible with present-day values.”

DOLLYGOOD: Country music and vaccine icon Dolly Parton wants to send your kids a book. The "9 to 5" singer-songwriter is sending free books each month to 2,000 kids residing in North Philly's 19133 ZIP code through her Imagination Library program, Philly Mag explains. The program is nationwide, with affiliates across the state of Pennsylvania

GOT THE GOOSE: The snow geese have finally made it to the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lancaster County after a brief, weather-related delay. A honking horde more than 100,000 strong descended on the refuge this week. LancasterOnline has the terrifying captivating video to prove it. 

TIL: The nation's first-ever armored car robbery happened just outside Pittsburgh 94 years today, the Post-Gazette reports. It involved a Brink's truck delivering payroll to area coal mining companies, $104,205 in cash, a prolific and deadly holdup man, and an earth-shaking explosion. 

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Vindictive

Congrats to our daily winners: Michael H., Jessica K., Mary Ellen T., Susan D., Bob R., Bill C., Becky C., Mark O., Al M., Patricia M., Kathleen H., Anna T., Jill G., Kevin H., Michael S., Kerri G., Kim C., Theodore W., Michael S., Yvette R., Regis K., Steve D., Neal W., Irene R., Dennis M., Bruce B., Jill A-S., Luke E., Karen W., Andrea R., Sue B., Adrien M., Chris M., Patricia R., George S., Brian M., Tish M., Joel S., Perry H., Jimmy N., Jetta P., Kelly P., Paul H., David W., Russellen C., Alice B., George S., Carol D., Mary Kay M., David I., Suzanne S., Craig W., Nancy T., Steven Z., Bruce F., Dixie S., Lex M., Geoff D., Christine M., and Beth T.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, which has combined with Spotlight PA to create Pennsylvania's largest statewide newsroom dedicated to accountability journalism.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.