For families across the state struggling to raise children amid the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic, new relief will begin appearing in their bank accounts this week. Monthly payments for the federal child tax credit — significantly expanded for a year through President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package — start officially rolling out Thursday. The IRS reports that it has already sent $15 billion in first payments to nearly 60 million children across the country.

The expanded child tax credit is expected to cut child poverty in America in half, from nearly 14% to 7.5%, according to a Brookings Institution analysis.

“With the delivery of the first round of expanded Child Tax Credit payments, help is here for parents that have been struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic,” a group of members of Congress who championed the child tax credit, including Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said in a statement Thursday. “The expanded credit will provide relief to nearly 66 million children — close to 90 percent of all kids in this country.”

Here’s what you need to know about the federal child tax credit:

Do I need to apply for the child tax credit?

If you filed a 2019 or 2020 tax return or have used the Internal Revenue Service portal to receive stimulus checks, you do not have to do anything to receive the payments, according to Laura O’Keefe, director of family financial stability for the Village for Families and Children in Hartford.

Most parents who did not file taxes are still eligible for the tax credit and can enroll through the IRS portal for non-filers, O’Keefe added. She encouraged residents of low- and moderate-income households to contact the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program at 860-297-5962, which offers free tax assistance, for further help.

How much money can I expect to receive?

It depends on how many kids you have and how old they are, as well as on your filing status and adjusted gross income.

Families can expect to receive a total of $3,600 for each child age 5 or younger and $3,000 for each child age 6 through seventeen. Those funds will typically appear, for the younger children, as six monthly payments of $300, followed by a lump sum of $1,800, and for the older children, as six monthly payments of $250 followed by a later lump sum of $1,500.

The credit is fully refundable, meaning that taxpayers can receive it even if they do not have earned income or owe income taxes.

child tax credit calculator developed by The Washington Post can help parents determine exactly how much they can expect to receive.

When can I expect to receive the payments?

The payments are scheduled to go out on July 15, Aug. 13, Sept. 15, Oct. 15, Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

Families can check the status of their payments through the IRS’s Child Tax Credit Update Portal.

Can I opt to get my full credit next year, instead of in monthly chunks?

Yes. Parents can choose to opt out of the monthly payments and receive a larger lump sum credit during next year’s tax season.

How is the expanded child tax credit different from the previous program?

Previously, child tax credits were distributed at the end of a financial year, as a tax deduction or lump sum check, and they were only available to certain households. But the expanded tax credit is available to a broader range of low and middle-income households and families can receive half of the total credit amount in monthly payments, with the rest available upon filing their 2021 tax return.

Is the expanded child tax credit here to stay?

No. The expanded credit is only in place for one year. But there is an effort underway by some lawmakers, including DeLauro, to make it permanent.