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Apr. 9—WILKES-BARRE — U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-8, Moosic visited Children's Service Center on Thursday and highlighted how the American Rescue Plan will help improve the lives of children and families in Northeast Pennsylvania.
He said Pennsylvania is estimated to receive nearly $1.2 billion to help child care providers like Children's Service Center keep their doors open and reduce costs for struggling families whose lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The Children's Service Center helps kids and families get through difficult times," he said. "That was a key goal of the American Rescue Plan that we passed: helping this entire country get over the tough times that we're in."
It hasn't been determined how much of the nearly $1.2 billion that Children's Service Center will receive.
Mike Hopkins, president and CEO of Children's Service Center, said there will be additional funds for behavioral health clinics and that's important for the Children's Service Center.
"If families are getting the help they need, the likelihood of them needing us is less," Hopkins said. "All the support that is going to be put out for the families and children will have a direct impact on us and that's a great thing in that our numbers might go down."
Cartwright said other goals of the American Rescue Plan that he helped pass in Congress are to get shots in arms, stimulus money in people's pockets, kids back in school and people in jobs.
"The pandemic has really strained parents, children and families. Throughout the pandemic, they have faced heightening health care, education and food security challenges," he said. "Some parents have lost jobs or if they didn't, many have had to balance their work life with taking care of kids at home who couldn't be in school."
The American Rescue Plan also expands the Child Tax Credit, which Cartwright said will substantially reduce child poverty by supplementing families' earnings.
It increased the amount of the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 to $3,600 for children under age 6 and $3,00 for other children under age 18.
Struggling families can receive financial assistance now rather than waiting until the 2022 tax filing season to receive the Child Tax Credit benefit, he said.
"This will help families with children even more during the pandemic," Cartwright said.
Cartwright was joined by Alicia Duque, membership and outreach director for Action Together NEPA and a working mother of three from Pittston.
Duque said her life led her to become a single mom then a stepmom with a blended multicultural family. She is raising children with special needs and she said she has faced many obstacles as a working parent.
"Nothing could have prepared me and many other parents for the balancing act of working from home while raising your children while they are learning remotely," she said.
Duque said more than a quarter of households in Pennsylvania are struggling to afford the usual expenses and necessities. About 1 million Pennsylvania households are struggling like to put food on the table like she is, she said.
"As a mom of three boys, you should see my grocery bill," she said. "More than 1 million Pennsylvanians are behind on rent or are at risk for losing their homes. Nearly 3 million Pennsylvanians are at risk for losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut."
Duque praised the American Rescue Plan for ensuring that relief is reaching working people in Pennsylvania.
"Now our state and local governments need to do the same and get more stimulus funds to help those who helped us through the pandemic," she said. "Washington needs to keep delivering the progress for which we voted."
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