(WJW) – Many parents who have opted in to receive the child tax credit payments say it has given them a lifeline to keep their families afloat. And there are three payments left.

Those monthly checks will expire at the end of this year if Congress doesn’t move to extend them.

Changes made in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) gave eligible households who opted in up to 50% of the total credit in six advance payments through 2021. The rest will be paid with a tax refund in 2022. Previously, the smaller tax credit was applied in a single lump sum at tax-filing time.

The next payment goes out on Oct. 15, and it could be one of the last.

The child tax credit is tied into the debate over government funding and the debt limit. President Joe Biden signed legislation late last week to avoid a partial federal shutdown.

It only keeps the government funded through Dec. 3, so both the U.S. House and Senate will have to reach an agreement soon to fund the government into the new year.

In addition to the October child tax credit, there are two more payment dates: Nov. 15 and Dec. 15.

Biden has proposed extending the increased child tax credit for five more years as part of the American Families Plan.

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A recent MagnifyMoney survey found parents who receive the monthly checks are mostly putting the money toward necessities.

They cite the top three uses for the payment as groceries (45%), school supplies (44%) and savings (38%).

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the child tax credit this year would cut the number of children in poverty by 40%.