Front and Center: Guaranteed Income and the Child Tax Credit Are Keeping This Family Afloat

Front and Center is a groundbreaking series of op-eds—published by Ms. and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—which aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level. The series highlights the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing.

What possibilities could open up for low-income families if financial survival weren’t always top of mind? What dreams would these mothers and families be able to pursue? What activism and community leadership might arise? The series will answer these and other questions, by placing one mother’s story front and center every other week. The first-person accounts in this series are available for reprint. Find additional guidelines at the end of this story.


I’m 30 years old, I’m a mother of two—my daughter is 12 and my son is 7, and I will be the mother of a newborn in about two weeks! It’s a little boy; I’m going to name him Zion.

This is a high-risk pregnancy, so I haven’t been able to work in a while. Before I had to stop, I was working seven days a week—I was the cleaning supervisor at two different hotels and I also worked as a cashier at a gas station. I was working during the pandemic, and contracted COVID in June of last year. Getting sick had me out of work for about three weeks.


This is a high-risk pregnancy, so I haven’t been able to work in a while. Before I had to stop, I was working seven days a week.


I was very hesitant about the vaccine initially, but I got my first Pfizer shot a few weeks ago. And then I’ll get my second shot next week, right before I deliver my baby. I made the choice to get it because my doctor had a patient who was not vaccinated and contracted COVID, and it really complicated her delivery. I decided getting the vaccine was worth any potential risk to protect me and my baby from getting sick.

Being a part of Magnolia Mother’s Trust has been so important in getting me through this year. Since I haven’t had an income since January, before the program started in April, I was living off my savings and that was stressful. Now that I have the guaranteed income money coming in, I don’t have to worry about whether I can afford bills this month or be concerned about affording household supplies. It did make my rent go up because I live in income-based housing, but it didn’t go up by that much and it’s allowed me overall to live more comfortably. 


Now that I have the guaranteed income money coming in, I don’t have to worry about whether I can afford bills this month or be concerned about affording household supplies.


And then to get the child tax credit payments that started coming last month has been a huge help as well. I was able to use the first payment in July to get prepared and buy my children their school things—there’s so much to get. The clothes, the shoes, the school supplies. I swear that list gets longer every year.


The child tax credit payments that started coming last month has been a huge help … to get prepared and buy my children their school things—there’s so much to get. The clothes, the shoes, the school supplies. I swear that list gets longer every year.


I joke that I’m excited for them to go back to school, because my power bill when they started doing remote school went way up since they were home all the time. But really I am scared about the Delta variant, and the high rates here in Mississippi and how the virus is affecting children. I would rather pay a high power bill than have them at school, honestly. But they are required to be back in school, even though I would love for them to continue to be schooled virtually.

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If I could talk to President Biden, I would tell him that he should make the child tax credit permanent, because so many people are still unemployed and the pandemic is not over. And people need help even without a pandemic going on.

I would love to see a program like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust offered to more people, too. The government should want to pitch in a little more to help with programs like guaranteed income to help more families. 

I want my kids to be successful, no matter what life choices they make. I want them to stick together, always dream big and reach for higher goals. I don’t want them to settle for something that they think they are limited to because of their community. And right now they have big dreams. My son wants to be a scientist, and my daughter wants to be the first female president. And I just want to help them achieve those goals.


I would love to see a program like the Magnolia Mother’s Trust offered to more people. The government should want to pitch in a little more to help with programs like guaranteed income to help more families. 


I went to school for culinary arts, so my dream is to be an executive chef. My specialty is Italian cuisine—I love to make pizzas. I’ve also been teaching my daughter how to cook; in fact, she made Sunday dinner last week. Her menu was fried catfish, mustard greens, smoked gouda mac ‘n’ cheese and cornbread. I was so proud of her. 

For me, I have been held back from the limited opportunities due to the community I live in. There just are not jobs in the field I want to be in, so that’s why I was struggling to make ends meet as a housekeeper and cashier.

I did finally start to hear back on some of the applications I sent out in the restaurant industry when it was hard for people to find workers, but then I wasn’t able to take those jobs because it all happened when I had to step away from work due to my pregnancy. So ultimately, my goal is to move out of Jackson and some day move to a bigger city where I can also have the chance to pursue my own dreams.


Front and Center pieces are free to republish, under the following guidelines:

  • To ensure context isn’t lost, at the top of your reprint, include a line that reads: “Front and Center is a series of op-eds—published by Ms. magazine and created in partnership with the Magnolia Mother’s Trust—highlighting the success of Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust program, which this year will give $1,000 per month for 12 months to 100 families headed by Black women living in federally subsidized housing. The series aims to put front and center the voices of Black women who are affected most by the often-abstract policies currently debated at the national level.” (You can use editorial discretion to alter or shorten the text slightly.)
  • You may also republish the photographs included in this story.
  • If you share republished stories on social media, we’d appreciate being tagged in your posts. You can find Ms. on Twitter @MsMagazine, on Instagram @ms_magazine and on Facebook. Springboard to Opportunities is on Twitter @SpringboardToOp, on Instagram @springboard_to and on Facebook.

Have questions on the series? Read more here, and direct specific questions to Katie Fleischer at [email protected].

About

I'esha contracted COVID-19 last summer as she worked multiple customer service jobs, and due to a high-risk pregnancy is currently unable to work. The payments from Magnolia Mother's Trust and the new child tax credit expansion are keeping her family afloat.