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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Families in Kansas and Missouri have started to receive child tax credit payments from the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan.

Critics labeled it another unnecessary government handout adding to the deficit, but on Monday, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids and supporters hailed it as a big boost for families struggling with the pandemic.

“While we were saving for all of the things we were expecting, we weren’t expecting all that,” Kansas mom Crystal Henry said.

Henry said this past year, life’s unexpected changes put her family in a bind.

“And really at that time, we relied on the stimulus to be our safety net,” Henry said.

She said between her experiences at home and work, she saw firsthand how some families could use extra cash. Now that the American Rescue Plan expanded the Child Tax Credit, Henry said families can recover from the pandemic.

For this year only, the child tax credit has increased from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child. Parents of children under age 6 would be eligible for an even larger $3,600 total credit. The plan also includes $3,000 benefits to the parents of 17-year-olds who meet plan qualifications. Previously, children had to be 16 or younger.

Up to half of that credit will be distributed over the final six months of this year, meaning a typical parent of one kid over 6 years old can expect a $250 payment later this month as the first of six installments of the advanced payment of $1,500. There are also phase-outs on the increased benefits based on income.

Davids spent part of the day Monday at the Family Conservancy in Kansas City, Kansas. She met with families who will directly benefit from the payment. She said over 77% of children in Kansas’ 3rd District will be impacted by the expanded child tax credit.

“Being able to put food on the table, find that next residence, those are the kind of stressors that are on families particularly coming out of the pandemic that has economic crisis,” Davids said.

As with stimulus payments, the vast majority of eligible Americans won’t have to deposit a check to get their advanced credit. The IRS said direct deposits will be made into the bank account currently on file with the agency. Only those who are not enrolled for direct deposit will get a physical check.

If you’ve already filed your taxes for 2020, there’s nothing for you to do but wait for your payout.