Mothers say: We need the Child Tax Credit (CTC). We need it to remain fully refundable, made permanent, and paid directly to us.

DATE: September 29, 2021

STOP PRESS: Senator Manchin Attacks Mothers!

Senator Joe Manchin is attacking mothers and other unpaid caregivers. He is refusing to acknowledge our work! He is insisting that in order to receive Child Tax Credits mothers have to “get a job”. But raising children is work, the hardest and most important job there is. Moms who work outside the home do a double day – a waged job on top of giving our all as unwaged caregivers. Does Senator Manchin know that women’s unpaid caregiving work contributes $1.5 trillion to the US economy every year? His proposal would punish families already impoverished who are most in need and deserving of support. It would leave millions without access to the popular expanded CTC which has helped to feed children and lift families out of poverty across the country. Shame on Senator Manchin for dissing caregivers and our children!

“The CTC has changed my life. For the first time I was able to pay my gas and electric bill and my rent at the same time. I’ve spent more time with my kids, I’m not spending hours on the phone trying to reach different agencies.”  

Mother of 5 children, Altoona, PA, United States

Mothers and their children are among the many whose lives have been drastically improved by the CTC payments, money that is long overdue and has already lifted millions of children out of poverty (See: It begins to recognize the life-sustaining work of mothers and other unpaid caregivers.

As Congress will soon vote on the Build Back Better Act based on President Biden’s Care Economy proposals, mothers and families demand that the CTC in the current draft:

  • not be cut or the payment amounts reduced in budget negotiations.
  • continue to be fully refundable.
  • there must be no work requirements.
  • immigrant families be included.

Additionally, we would like Build Back Better strengthened by adding:

  • The CTC be made permanent.
  • The CTC be paid directly to the mother or other primary caregiver.

The CTC has been important to me because as a single mom in California with high rent fees, high gas prices, it really helps bring financial stability to my household. It helps alleviate some of the stress that I have in my life as a student, and student fees are very, very high. Also, having a growing child and teenager, food can get very costly especially if you want to feed your family healthy food. It’s been a blessing to have my children see me more stress free. So I really hope this CTC continues

Indigenous mother

We are glad to see in the Build Back Better Act a firm commitment to make permanent the full refundability of the credit: even if we don’t have an income, our children qualify. This will help to ensure the CTC’s potential to reduce poverty among US children. And for immigrant families, children with ITIN numbers will now also qualify for the CTC, as is the case for the child benefit in France, Italy, and other countries.

We object to any work requirement in order to receive the CTC – this would penalize mothers and other unpaid primary caregivers.  Caregiving is work.  We are already working in the home and in our communities — in fact doing essential life-sustaining work of society.Women contribute $1.5 trillion to the US economy in unpaid caregiving.

Consider the mother of three in Nevada who suddenly has to school her daughter at home because someone in her class has COVID-19. If she has financial support from another partner, she might get by, but she may have to quit her waged job. If she is a single mother, she will surely have to quit her waged job. Consider the mother of a disabled child, a chronically ill child, or an autistic child. Consider the breastfeeding mother of an infant. These mothers are all working for their children’s health and well-being. We must not allow unpaid caregivers to be punished for doing the work that society is dependent on.

While we are also encouraged that the House Ways and Means Committee recommended extending the CTC until 2025, we continue to call for it to be made permanent. Four hundred economists are calling for a permanent expansion of the CTC. Its permanence is endorsed by organizations across the political spectrum, by most Democratic Senators, by current Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, and past Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin, and is overwhelmingly supported by mothers and all parents. For some, it means the difference between being able to put food on the table or going hungry. The CTC must be made permanent.

The CTC has helped me pay the bills, keep cable on for my three grandchildren, buy them clothes and take them to the amusement park. If I had had CTC earlier, child welfare might not have taken my nieces from me because I would have had more money.” 

Black grandmother, Philadelphia, PA

We also continue to press for the CTC to be strengthened so that the money actually benefits children. Fundamentally, the CTC should go to the mother or primary caregiver as it does in other countries, including Canada, where it defaults to the “female parent” and gives her the authority to assign the benefit if she is not the child’s primary caregiver. This would be a guarantee that  the children will benefit, rather than the “Specified child” test now recommended by the Committee, which, while a step in the right direction, is confusing and could put the mother at risk in several ways.

For example, when parents share custody 50/50, they may both ostensibly do the tasks in the “Specified child” list, but to different degrees. Because it may be difficult for those in contentious co-parenting relationships to decide who will receive the CTC, it should default to the mother, who is almost always the primary caregiver, whatever the custody arrangements. We worry that in custody battles, without the CTC, the parent or relative with the most income is favored by courts.

We also worry that violent fathers will claim the CTC to continue their reign of terror over women and children. If the mother has the money, she is in a better position to protect herself and her children. Given that one in three US women, are victims of domestic violence who the money is paid to can have a detrimental or positive impact on many families.

“When my children were young, both of my ex-husbands controlled the taxes and I used to have to beg them for money. One of them blew the money on fancy shoes for himself, and the other to buy himself an electric guitar when the kids needed new glasses. That’s what happens when the money doesn’t go to the primary caregiver.” 

Mother of children with disabilities

More than 70% of single mothers receive no child support and 34% live in poverty. Since Clinton’s ‘welfare reform’ was enacted, money for low-income mothers and children has been cut, while money to the child welfare system which separates children from their mothers has increased 20,000%!

It is outrageous and sexist to ignore that over 75% of caregivers are women, and most of them are mothers. Acknowledging this in administering the CTC would be of great benefit to the children for whom it is intended, and a protection against individual men and institutions who will seek to use the money as another means of controlling the lives of mothers and children.

Here are stories of how the Child Tax Credit affects people in real life:

Congress has made historic progress toward a permanent benefit for children in the US, but let’s get it right. Make the Child Tax Credit permanent and pay it to mothers or primary caretakers.

Care Income Now! Is a national and international network of grassroots women and organizations, whose coordinating group has campaigned for decades for money for mothers and other unpaid caregivers on the basis that we are workers, doing the essential work of raising children. Our demands include that the CTC  be paid directly to the mother or primary caregiver.  The Care Income Now! letter to President Biden, Vice President Harris and Congress has been endorsed by 60 organizations, including the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, the Thomas Merton Center, the Mother’s Outreach Network and over 200 individuals. Read the letter

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