Front and Center: How the Child Tax Credit and Guaranteed Income “Help Mothers Like Me Get Out of a Continuous Cycle of Poverty”

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 have two sons, Kantavius and Kennari, they are 12 and 9. They both like to play football, and my older one is always on the honor roll. The younger one is smart too, but I’m working with him to pull his grades up. I have lived in Jackson my whole life, but one day I’d like to venture off somewhere else to find a better environment for my kids. 

I work with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security. I enjoy the work. In any job I want to make sure I’m helping to make a positive change within the organization or the company and that I have the opportunity to move up and progress in the job.

Sometimes in companies I think the higher-ups don’t have a good sense of what’s going on at the levels below them, but that’s important for them to know. Sometimes positions that are seen as “lower” are the only ones who actually know what’s going on with customers and that’s something the leaders should know, too. So it’s important to me to work somewhere where my voice is heard and I can share what I’m hearing from customers or the public in order to make a difference. And I’m glad that at my current job I feel heard.

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My hope for my boys is that they’ll be successful and make the right decisions in life and be whatever they want to be, as long as it’s something benefiting them. They’re both too young to really know what they want to do when they’re older, but I plan to just keep guiding them and helping them on that path. They have lots of time to figure that out.

I carry a really heavy load as a single mom. There’s no one else—everything is on me. So it helped ease my burden a lot when I started getting the monthly child tax credits last year. Not getting the payments anymore has definitely put a strain on my budget; there are just some things I can’t afford without that extra support coming in.

I also preferred getting the credit monthly as opposed to in one lump sum at tax time. Bills come monthly, so having that payment just helps to cover those expenses when they happen, and I was able to save more. I think with the lump sum there’s more of a temptation to spend more than you should, so spreading out helps. Moving forward I think those programs should be monthly.

Overall, things have been hard. You keep working and keep going, but things never seem to change. But, being a part of the Magnolia Mother’s Trust made me realize that things can change for the better. There are people out there, programs out there, that want to help mothers like me get out of a continuous cycle of poverty. It has really given me hope.


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

Kimberly is a mother of two who works for the state. She has found it harder to make ends meet since the expanded child tax credit payments ended in January.