Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics


Moms (Like Me) Deserve the Credit

Thumbs up (photo: Michael Appleton/NYC Mayor's Office)

New York’s proposed Working Families Tax Credit has the power to lift up millions of mothers – it's time for Albany to pass it.

I am a single mother of four children between the ages of 5 and 17, all born and raised in New York just like me. I work extremely hard for my family each and every day. Like many mothers, I take my children to doctor’s appointments and the grocery store, help them with their homework, and much more. I have worked my way up to a management position at Wendy’s, a position I am very proud of. Despite this,  I have not always made enough to make ends meet, making it harder to support my kids, further my career, and contribute to my community.

And I’m not alone. Women in this country work hard for little pay and little support.

That’s why, when the federal government enhanced the Child Tax Credit, it was a much-deserved lifeline for families. It provided hundreds of dollars to families like mine every month. When you've been living paycheck to paycheck, that help meant not having to choose between paying bills, paying rent, and putting food on the table. In short, it changed my life, and it helped me provide for my children.

Unfortunately, the federal government chose not to renew that enhancement, and families like mine will be forced back down into poverty unless New York State takes action on our behalf.

There is a bill in Albany that would do exactly that: The Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), led by Senators Gounardes and Cooney and Assemblymember Hevesi, could give my family what we need to keep going. The WFTC bill includes children 0-4 years of age for the first time, includes tax-filing families regardless of citizenship status, and eliminates the phase-in, providing those with the lowest income the largest credit.

The bill also increases the credit provided to all families to a maximum credit of $1,500 per child, provides a minimum $500 credit per child regardless of income, and eliminates the cap on the number of children eligible to receive a credit.

The data proves this makes sense. When Child Tax Credit programs are in place, moms use them to pay for childcare, food, clothing, and other basic needs. This is crucial given that the gap in childcare options, specifically, is one of the single biggest obstacles when participating in our economy.

Studies from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and Urban Institute and Humanity Forward also show that direct cash benefits like the federal Child Tax Credit help moms – especially single mothers – get back to work by alleviating the costs of childcare and transportation.

I am dedicated to taking care of my children and providing them with the best possible life, but I didn’t get here on my own: I got on my feet with the support of organizations like Healthy Moms in Rochester, Up Together, and Flower City AmeriCorps, and with the help of programs like the Child Tax Credit. Now, I am also working on my career by taking adult literacy classes at the Hart Street OACES and I’m proud to share that my son will be starting his first year of college – the first to go to college in our family.

Since the enhanced Child Tax Credit expired, however, my paychecks haven’t gone as far. Without it, every day is more stressful. When families like mine are given resources directly, we reinvest our time and our efforts to make our communities better, safer places for our children. New York should pass the Working Families Tax Credit — moms just like me all over the state deserve the credit.

Candace Cabral is a born-and-raised New Yorker and a mother of four. She lives and works in Rochester, New York.

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