Millions of American families with children have already received their first Child Tax Credit payment—or soon will.

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service began sending monthly payments of $250 or $300 to low- and moderate-income families on July 15th, under the newly expanded Child Tax Credit.

Now, a group of mothers is petitioning the Biden administration to make the payments permanent. 50 women from 50 states signed on to the open letter, which was sent to President Biden and Vice President Harris. It outlines the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on mothers, especially women of color, and calls for the creation of a permanent CTC program to help with the rising costs of childcare in America.

"It means kids won't go to school hungry, will have a winter coat when they need it, and sneakers that are the right size. It could pay for an afterschool program for kids who would otherwise be home alone," said mom Melissa from Massachusetts on why she is hoping the administration will make the CTC permanent.

"For some families, it could mean they are able to save for unexpected emergencies, which is almost impossible for a big chunk of working families right now. Our kids need this."

The letter was organized by Income Movement, Magnolia Mother's Trust and the Marshall Plan for Moms.

It reads, in part, "While we know that the CTC will help cut child poverty, we also know that the permanent expansion of the CTC will provide critical relief to mothers who are juggling needs at home—including serving as teachers and nannies—with demands at work, or trying to get back into the workforce."

"As mothers, we say loud and clear: we need help. Many moms want to be at work right now, but have either been laid off or can't return because of demands at home. It is time for our government to have our backs."

We know this is something that mothers want. Our State of Motherhood survey found that 92% of mothers support legislative action to increase support for childcare and/or parental leave. 92% of moms also don't feel like society does a good job of supporting or understanding motherhood. 75% of mothers want a refundable tax credit to help pay for childcare.

We spoke with White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield to find out everything you need to know to take advantage of the Child Tax Credit.

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What is the Child Tax Credit?

Starting July 15th, families will receive a monthly payment for each child in their home. The payments will continue through December 2021—so you can plan on receiving this money for the rest of the year.

"This is money that is going to help parents balance working and family. This is money that is going to help people put food on the table, it's going to help people make rent," says Bedingfield. These payments are all about making sure you have the money you need to raise your children.

"What we're doing this year is making this money available monthly, instead of waiting for it to all come in a lump sum in your taxes. So, the idea is it's going to be able to help as you're dealing with those expenses month in and month out," says Bedingfield.

Most families will receive the payments via direct deposit if they've set that up with the IRS. You can also opt to receive a paper check or debit card.

The Biden administration estimates that 88% of all American children will receive some type of payment, impacting roughly 39 million American families.

The expanded Child Tax Credit applies to single parents earning up to $75,000 and to couples earning up to $150,000 combined. It's part of President Biden's American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus-relief package that Congress passed in March.

How can I make sure I'll receive the payments?

If you paid taxes last year, you shouldn't have to do a thing—you're already signed up. Many families with children, though, don't make enough to pay taxes. Even if you didn't pay taxes last year, you're still eligible to receive the Child Tax Credit.

To find out if you're eligible or to sign up to receive the payments, head to

Right now, the cash payments will only continue through December. They were designed to help lift families out of poverty caused by the pandemic.

Who qualifies for the Child Tax Credit?

Because the goal of the credit is to help families in need, your income, number of children and their ages will be the biggest variables in determining whether you qualify. There are a few basic requirements.

Legally qualifying children must be:

  • Ages newborn to 17 years old
  • U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals or U.S. resident aliens and have a social security number
  • Legal dependents, living with you for at least half the year and also related to you (adoption is included). You must provide more than half of your child's financial support including shelter, food, utilities, clothing, education, etc.
  • Parents of qualifying children must have an income of $2,500 or more

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How much is the Child Tax Credit?

2021 payouts by age:

  • Qualified children ages five and under may count for up to $3,600 (up to $300 per month from July through December).
  • Children between six and seventeen could count for up to $3,000 (up to $250 per month from July through December).
  • 18-year-olds or college students under the age of 24 could count for a one-time payment of up to $500.

Again, payments will vary according to your income, number of children and their ages. If you're not sure whether you qualify for a full payment, you can use a child tax credit calculator like this one by Omni Calculator.

Don't forget—you'll receive a payment for every child in your house. The Child Tax Credit is about helping parents raise every child in America.

What if my child is born later this year? Will we still receive a payment?

Yes, babies born in 2021 are eligible! All children (who meet the qualifications we mentioned above) born on or before December 31. 2021 will receive the full tax credit. You'll just have to visit the Child Tax Credit Update Portal to report your child's birth. Once your baby is in the system, you'll start receiving monthly checks, with the remainder coming with your tax return next spring.

Why is it technically an "advanced" payment? What does that mean?

If you paid taxes last year, you've probably already received a letter from the IRS with more information about the Child Tax Credit. In that letter, the payments are referred to as "advanced." What does that mean? Will you need to one day pay back the money?

Bedingfield says not at all.

"Advanced payment means you're going to get this monthly. You're going to get it when you need it, rather than the way a tax credit typically works where you get a big lump sum when you file your taxes each year," she says.

She continued, "It doesn't mean it's going to impact your tax bill. It doesn't mean you're going to have to pay it back. It just means you're going to get the money monthly when you need it the most."

What else do I need to know about the Child Tax Credit?

"You're going to get this money. It's going to show up in your bank account," says Bedingfield. Be on the lookout for your first payment—and know that you can count on them through at least December.

Under President Biden's proposed American Families Plan, the monthly payments would become permanent.

"It's important to help families make ends meet. It's also important to help women get back in the workforce. This is money that helps parents be able to go back to work," says Bedingfield.

"I would also ask any mom who's excited about this, any mom who has answered the Motherly [State of Motherhood] survey and said that this is something that they want, […] if you're excited about this and you know this is going to be helpful to you, go out and spread the word."

"Help is coming and make sure you go and tell everybody else that this help is coming," she adds.