AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - If you have a kid under age 17, chances are you are eligible for the new child tax credit. Starting Thursday, parents will receive up to $300 a month for each child under the age of 6 and $250 for kids 6 to 17 every month.
The exact amount depends on your household income and family size. It's expected to cut childhood poverty in half because, unlike the previous child tax credit, it will benefit the poorest families - those who don't make enough to file a tax return.
Right now, they don't qualify for a tax credit. There are 350,000 kids in Colorado whose parents don't file returns. In all, a million Colorado kids will benefit from the new child tax credit or 96% of all families here.
While critics say it will de-incentivize parents to work, supporters say it will do the opposite by making childcare more affordable.
At Creative Learning Academy in Aurora, 80% of families qualify for state childcare subsidies, yet owner Frank Omair says, most still struggle to afford their co-pay, which can run up to $300 a month.
"I'll tell parents, 'No, go ahead and pay rent. I'm happy to help these families achieve these hurdles."
The new child tax credit will help remove hurdles for some of Colorado's poorest families. Only 17,000 families qualify for the state subsidy. Almost every family qualifies for the new child tax credit.
"I truly think it's transformative," said Sue Renner, Executive Director of CareForAllChildren.
She's worked in early childhood education for 40 years and says the child tax credit is not only transformative for families in poverty, but those just above the poverty line.
"It really gives those families the ability to take a breath."
She says it also makes quality childcare more affordable. The average price of pre-school in Colorado is $15,325 a year, more than tuition at the University of Colorado which runs $12,500.
While the government has long invested in higher education and K-12, Renner says the child tax credit is the most significant investment in younger kids.
"We have so long underinvested in young children, and that's really mindboggling when you consider 80% of a child's brain is formed before age 3."
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet fought for years to get the child tax credit approved.
"We are the wealthiest nation in human history. The population of Americans that is before us is our children. That is a disgrace."
While the child tax credit will cost $100 billion, Frank Omair says it will save far more.
"In my opinion, us spending that kind of money on the little kids here, we don't have to spend it when they become adults and not educated."
The child tax credit is a one-year pilot right now, but Bennet is hoping to convince Congress to make it permanent.
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