Beautiful young woman smelling yellow flower in the park.

Emerging from a pandemic has not brought the immediate relief that I envisioned. Perhaps, like you, I have been cautious with my hopes – unsurprising given the ups and downs of the last year.

 But dare I say, I’m feeling pretty hopeful today. 

Just days ago, a helping hand was directly extended to Arizona families in the enactment of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. According to the Tax Policy Center, under the ARP, families with children would get an average tax cut of more than $6,000. 

A big reason for that number is a temporary updated Child Tax Credit that adds relief up to $1,600 per child to families of 1.5 million Arizona children. It may now include you: 

Lowered earned income thresholds to be eligible for the full credit amount. 

Households with children may now claim up to $3,600 for younger children or $3,000 for children age 6 or older. 

17-year-old dependents now qualify as children. 

Benefit may be paid out monthly for 2021: families could receive half their total credit on a periodic basis starting as early as July. That’s up to $300 per child for younger children and $250 per child ages 6 to 17. 

We know children who live in supportive communities realize higher academic achievements. We also know education is a key component to solving the many negative impacts of poverty in our communities. 

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2020 Kids Count Profile, in 2018, 20 percent of Arizona children live in poverty and 28 percent live in households whose parents lack secure employment. 

This rescue plan will help our community. In Scottsdale Unified School District alone, there are eight district schools that have more than 40 percent of its students that qualify for free or reduced lunch – a federal indicator of communities whose students’ success suffer, through no fault of their own, from the barriers erected by poverty. 

When you think about the long-term ramifications of poverty, the rescue act is a true lifeline. This piece of federal legislation is estimated to lift 112,000 Arizona children out of poverty! That’s good for our kids, their academic futures, and our community and country’s stability and security. 

On the public health front, please take a moment to offer gratitude and grace to your public health officials, hospital personnel, pharmacists, doctors, nurses and the many volunteers – all your neighbors – that continue to make this life-saving effort for YOU! 

So, keep showing grace by wearing masks, get vaccinated, thank a volunteer, and check out the American Rescue Plan. Spring is here and hope is in the air.

-Dr. Libby Hart-Wells is a member of the Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board.