WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Many American families started receiving child tax credit payments on Thursday.

The payments are part of the Biden administration’s pandemic relief plan passed earlier this year.

“Checks are being mailed or electronically transferred as we speak,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

President Joe Biden said the child tax credit payments will make a huge difference, helping families “to buy their kids new shoes, to send them to summer camp, to cover after school care.”

The expanded tax credits mean families will get half of the money in six monthly checks of up to $300. The remainder will be delivered when families file their taxes.

The benefit provides a total of up to $3,600 a year for each child under the age of 6 and up to $3,000 for children between the ages of 6 and 17.

Families who filed their taxes last year should automatically get the payments. People can visit childtaxcredit.gov to enroll in or opt-out of the monthly payments.

“Many of their parents are working two and three jobs and no matter what they do, they can’t get their kids out of poverty,” said Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO).

Up until now, the poorest Americans who didn’t earn enough were unable to get the full benefit of the child tax credit. Now that it’s fully refundable, it’s estimated the child tax credit will cut child poverty in half.

“Because in the world’s richest country in the history of the Earth, there should not be child poverty,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA).

Because the tax credit was passed as part of Democrats’ pandemic relief package, it currently only applies to 2021. However, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said Democrats want to see it last beyond this year.

“We will be pushing to extend the child tax credit for as long as we possibly can,” Wyden said.