Biden’s child cash benefit could give families financial security. For a little while, anyway.

Back to school outfits bought in a store, rather than donated. A $50 entry fee for cheerleading and $70 for soccer, after-school activities kids have been begging to join for years.

Maybe even the occasional Tooth Fairy payment, which has been on hiatus because money was tight.

These are things Mary Beth Cochran will be able to afford starting this week, when her household receives their first monthly child cash allowance of $500.

Catherine Rampell/Washington Post

“It would mean getting out of the daily cycle of having to worry, ‘Okay, is this bill going to be paid? Can I get my medicine?’ Cochran, a 52-year-old caring for her grandchildren, said of her hopes for the program created by the stimulus bill passed in March.

The program gives families up to $300 per child under age 6, $250 for children ages 6 to 17, and is arguably the most groundbreaking part of the Biden program. Not just because of its scale – the payments are expected to cut child poverty almost in half – but also because of the few hurdles they force poor families to overcome.
Unlike other anti-poverty programs, almost all eligible families will automatically be enrolled. If your last tax return shows that your income is below a certain threshold and you have children, that’s it. You get the money. And if you made too little money to need to file a return, you can submit those basic details to the IRS online.

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Sarah J. Greer