ALEXANDRIA, VA – Today, reports are indicating that President Bush and Congressional leaders have reached a tentative agreement on an economic stimulus package that would be beneficial to children and families.

In an effort to jumpstart the economy, the package would include an immediate tax rebate that would fluctuate depending on family size. According to reports, families with children would receive an additional $300 per child as part of their rebate, acknowledging the additional economic burdens families with children are likely to face.

First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, praised the deal as an important acknowledgment of the burdens borne by low-income families with children. This is indeed a positive step from the economic stimulus package passed by Congress in 2001, which included a rebate that was the same regardless of how many dependent children a taxpayer claimed. This meant that families with no children received the same resource boost as families with many children; despite the additional cost those larger families are likely to have.

First Focus President Bruce Lesley made the following comments:

“We are very pleased to hear that the economic stimulus package will contain important provisions that will vary the tax rebate according to family size. This essential relief to low-income families with children will be invaluable as they are frequently the most adversely affected as the result of an economic slowdown. With unemployment hitting a two-year high last month, it is important that these rebates are directed to those who need it most – low-income families who are struggling to make ends meet. Even more critical is the government’s acknowledgment that larger families have greater need, and should be assisted accordingly.

“With this assistance, families will have added resources to provide their children with necessities they otherwise may not be able to afford. Congress and the president should be applauded for a compromise that acknowledged the special needs of America’s families with children.”

Earlier this week, First Focus spearheaded a letter signed by over 60 national, state, and local organizations to Congressional leadership, urging a rebate that fluctuates based on family size. The organizations range from the YMCA to the National Council of La Raza, in addition to groups in 20 states across the country. The text is below:

January 24, 2008

We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to include in the forthcoming economic stimulus package a tax rebate that varies according to family size. In 2001, the stimulus package passed by Congress included a one-time tax rebate for all taxpayers who had filed tax return in the previous year. That type of one-time tax rebate is generally effective for quickly injecting additional resources into the economy, but it can be a blunt tool, and it treats families with children unfairly. The 2001 rebate was the same regardless of how many dependent children a taxpayer claimed. This meant that families with no children received the same resource boost as families with many children, despite the fact that families with children are much more likely to have additional costs that require them to spend those additional resources, making them better candidates to help stimulate the economy. A far better approach would be to direct a larger rebate to larger families.

The burden resulting from an economic slowdown tends to be borne disproportionately by existing vulnerable populations. America’s children already suffer higher rates of poverty than American adults, and the current downturn will certainly make matters worse. All the more reason that Congress, in acting to reverse the current economic trends, must not neglect the special needs of America’s families with children. This year, if Congress passes a stimulus package that includes an immediate tax rebate, that rebate should fluctuate depending on family size.