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Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through collaboration

Have you heard of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? If not, don’t worry! We are here to help fill you in. 

United Way for Greater Austin is excited to announce the launch of the PACES program, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences through getting the Earned Income Tax Credit into the hands of more eligible families in the Greater Austin area. Only 20% of eligible families are currently taking advantage of this tax credit that is arguably the largest federal anti-poverty program there is and that’s where PACES comes in. The program is a collaboration between Foundation Communities, The Child & Family Research Partnership out of The University of Texas at Austin, and United Way. 

Gabriela Mordi, Project Manager at Foundation Communities, will lead the outreach efforts with the help of United Way ATX’s PACES Coordinator Francisco Gallegos. Monica G. Navarro, Research Associate at The Child & Family Research Partnership, will support the project through data collection and analysis.

“The Earned Income Tax Credit, or EITC, is a refundable federal tax credit for working families of low and moderate income,” Navarro said. “In other words, the EITC lowers a family’s tax bill or provides a refund if they do not owe taxes, increasing the family’s overall income. By improving the financial security of families with low income, the EITC can reduce the environmental and economic conditions that put children at risk of experiencing ACEs and promote overall better family and child outcomes.”

Watch the video below to learn more about the project’s vision from Julian Huerta, Deputy Executive Director at Foundation Communities

“The PACES project wants to make sure that all parents have access to the resources they need to support their families,” Navarro said. “And the data collected will help PACES understand if encouraging families to file for the EITC is an effective way to support Austin families in reducing the risk factors they face – such as stress – and increasing their protective factors – including their income and other factors, such as having more time to spend with their children.” 

Workers receive a credit rate based on their earned income. Family size also affects the credit amount, with larger credits available to families with more children. After the credit reaches its maximum, it remains flat until earnings reach the phaseout point.

The goal of this collaboration is to increase the number of families receiving the EITC, but getting people signed up for services is not as easy as you might think. That is where outreach comes in. Information spread through word of mouth is the best way to reach eligible families and becoming a trusted source is of the utmost importance. This is why outreach and building relationships is so important to further our work. 

“I am someone who grew up in an underserved immigrant community, and so a lot of what helped uplift my family and the people I grew up with was receiving these kinds of services and being open to receiving them,” Gallegos said. “I think oftentimes individuals in marginalized communities are very reluctant to take the first step to receive assistance. My lived experiences make me successful in conducting outreach. I am here to take the first step with them so that they can run after.” 

If you have any questions about the PACES program or want to help with outreach efforts please email Francisco Gallegos at Francisco.Gallegos@uwatx.org

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