The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school and care center closures compounded a child care crisis already pushing working mothers to the brink. On Monday, February 8, the Biden administration unveiled the Child Tax Credit Bill to provide economic relief for working parents and families. The plan promises at least $3000 per child over the course of the year and will be presented to the House Ways and Means Committee over the coming weeks. The full benefit would be available to single parents earning up to $75,000 annually and for joint parents earning up to $150,000. Working parents would receive $300/month for every child under the age of six and $250/month for every child between 6-17. These payments are proposed to begin in July 2021, though it is uncertain if they would arrive that soon.
Receiving monthly, financial support would offer much needed support for working mothers in particular. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, women spent 37 percent more time on household and care work than men while Black and Latina women spent considerably more time on care work than their male counterparts and white women. Women in the U.S. contribute an estimated $10.8 trillion in unpaid labor annually. Their caregiving burdens have dramatically increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as many schools and childcare centers remain closed. Distance learning, gaps in care, and lack of support during an unprecedented crisis exacerbated women’s struggle to balance their work demands and caregiving responsibilities.
Economic relief would alleviate some of the hardships women face, especially as adult women’s employment continues to decline with each passing month. However, the Child Tax Credit Bill would only be the first of many steps to make toward a gender-equitable economic recovery. As we look for other means of economic relief, we must pursue other frameworks and initiatives that prioritize the support and uplifting of women.
If the Child Tax Credit Bill passes, Congress has the opportunity to make this type of financial support for families permanent. This expansion would lift more than three million people in the United States, including two million children, over the poverty line. It’s not enough to support women trying to get back to work, but it’s a start. Expanding the Child Tax Credit signals to mothers that their tireless contributions matter, and the country is starting to listen.