By Natasha Brown

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On Thursday, million began receiving their first installment of the increased Child Tax Credit. The monthly payment is part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The extra money couldn’t have come at a better time for struggling families. Local leaders say the payments are a gamechanger.

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Many parents are seeing an extra boost in their bank account. Starting July 15, the federal Child Tax Credit began kicking off its first monthly cash payments. The IRS started dispersing checks to eligible families with children ages 17 or younger.

“We have the moral obscenity of the highest child poverty rate amongst our peer nations. We are finally doing something significantly to cut that rate of child poverty in half,” New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said.

The new enhanced credit is part of a government effort to help low- and moderate-income families still facing pandemic challenges.

The first monthly installment of the enhanced Child Tax Credit includes up to $300 a month for each child under age 6 and up to $250 a month for each one ages 6 to 17.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney couldn’t be more excited for families in Philadeladelphia, a city still struggling to climb out of economic losses from the pandemic.

“It’s important to Philadelphia because people who generally receive that are not going to put it in a brokerage account, they’re going to spend it in the neighborhood,” Kenney said.

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“It’s helping us a lot,” April Lowman said.

Lowman’s job was affected by the pandemic. With work hours cut and virtual learning for her two children taking priority, the Child Tax Credit has been essential.

“We’re appreciative for it because with so many adjustments with employment and things of the sort, it gives us a little boost to make sure that we are able to do some things for the children and maintain the status quo, as they say,” Lowman said.

The IRS and Treasury said it sent payments for almost 60 million children on Thursday, totaling $15 billion.

Philadelphia officials hope some of that money filters back into a still-struggling city economy.

Families will receive a total of $3,600 for each child under age 6, and $3,000 for each one ages 6 to 17 for 2021.

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Half will be paid in monthly installments between now and December, and the rest will come next spring, around tax day, Biden said.