Celebrate Mother’s Day by Listening to Guaranteed Income Recipients

As families across the U.S. celebrate Mother’s Day, millions of low-income Americans are struggling to pay their bills, make rent, and put food on the table. Now, House Republicans are trying to pass budget cuts and work requirements for SNAP, Medicaid and other federal programs, making it even harder for low-income families to make ends meet.

When it comes to policy decisions that affect low-income families, Congress should listen to those most affected: low-income Black moms, who disproportionately bear the brunt of unemployment, wage gaps and unpaid childcare and domestic labor. While there are some local programs to help moms, such as The Bridge Project in New York City—which is accepting applications to its guaranteed income program for first-time pregnant people in Brooklyn and Staten Island through May 19—the national need must be met at the federal level. Moms are the experts in how federal policies affect their families, and this Mother’s Day, Ms. is continuing our work to uplift their voices and learn from their expertise.

In the Front and Center series, Ms. and Springboard to Opportunities’ Magnolia Mother’s Trust (MMT) team up to give low-income Black moms in Jackson, Miss., an opportunity to share their story. Each MMT mom receives a guaranteed income payment of $1,000 per month for a year, with no strings attached. Now in its fourth cohort, MMT has changed hundreds of lives and proved that unrestricted monthly payments empower women to do what’s best for their families.

The moms have shared the challenges they face, their hopes and dreams, and how a federal guaranteed income program would empower all low-income families to pay their bills, get degrees, save for their children’s educations, and find childcare and stable housing. Instead of threatening cuts to essential federal programs, our government should invest in families and ensure nobody gets left behind.

Take a moment to hear from guaranteed income recipients as they celebrate their own families and share how guaranteed income has affected their lives and enabled them to be the best moms they can be.

Shaquille: ‘Guaranteed Income Helped Us Actually Enjoy Life a Little’

For mom of two Shaquille, guaranteed income wasn’t just about the dollar amount. With the money from MMT, she was able to enroll in a dental assisting program, improving her future job stability and earning potential. But just as importantly, she was able to provide for her kids mental health, happiness and wants, now that she doesn’t have to worry about paying for the necessities. 

In her Front and Center story, Shaquille shares how the guaranteed income started right before her daughter’s first birthday party, and she was able to make it a memorable event—especially since her daughter started walking during the party! She’s also able to celebrate her son’s academic successes, and ensure that her children will never have to experience homelessness. The monthly payments, she says, “[have] really helped me and my little family. We’re able to actually enjoy life a little bit more now.”

Tiyonda: With a Guaranteed Income, ‘I Don’t Have to Worry or Stress Anymore’

Before receiving guaranteed income, elder care worker Tiyonda was living paycheck to paycheck, working part-time due to a lack of childcare. With no outside help, she was sometimes forced to skip work, and earned only $300 to $400 per month. Now, she’s able to go to work everyday, and is strengthening her credit score so that she can own her own home one day.

She’s also able to afford shoes and clothes for her kids, and is planning a family trip to LegoLand for her son’s birthday. Guaranteed income also improved Tiyonda’s mental health, and that of her whole family: “It really is a blessing. I have a lot of joy because I don’t have to worry or stress anymore. I’ve been happier lately and not frustrated or figuring out how to do this or how I’m gonna do that. It’s really been a lot of peace for me.”

Amber: Guaranteed Income Helped Me Be a Better ‘All-Around Support System’ for my Kids

Like Tiyonda, Amber knows how important it is to prioritize mental health. She emphasizes, “My goal with my kids is to be an all-around support system for them in all aspects of their life, especially for their mental health because I think that’s a really important issue in the Black community. I want to make sure they are given the proper tools to protect their mental and physical health in order to progress in life.”

On top of securing stable transportation and making plans to go back to school and study finance, she set aside money from her MMT payments to get counseling for her kids during the pandemic. By centering her family’s health and wellness, Amber’s essay shows how unrestricted payments allow parents to set their children up for future success and happiness.

Jakheya: ‘Now I Can Cover My Bills and Do Fun Things for My Son’

After enduring housing instability and losing a loved one to violence, Jakheya knows firsthand how a stable source of income can affect someone’s entire life and future. She joined MMT at a critical time after losing her job during the pandemic and struggling to get access to subsidized housing. 

Now, she’s able to give her son a stable and comfortable childhood. Thanks to guaranteed income, “I can cover my bills and do more fun things for my son, like take him to the water park. Before, I didn’t have any resources to just be able to go out and explore with him. There was nothing extra for that since every dime I had was going to bills. I am able to take care of my son, and right now I’m able to show him more than he’s ever seen.”

Erica: Before a Guaranteed Income and the Child Tax Credit, ‘I Used To Have to Work Four or Five Jobs To Make Ends Meet’

In Erica’s essay, she explicitly lifts up the broader benefits of guaranteed income, beyond the crucial financial support. Quality family time is extremely important to her, and she constantly strives to make sure her kids know how loved they are, and that she’s always there for them. 

Receiving guaranteed income enabled her to be even more present in her kids’ lives. She reflects, “There’s the financial part that’s so important, but it also helped me show up better for my kids. I don’t think I ever let them down before, but I used to have to work four or five jobs to make ends meet. Having the income coming in on top of my wages from work gave me more time to spend with them since I didn’t have to work extra hours to make sure they had what they needed. It just helped me build myself up—financially, mentally, emotionally—everything you need to really build yourself up.”

Explore the stories of other guaranteed income recipients in the Magnolia Mother’s Trust. In Front and Center, these mothers speak on their struggles, their children, their work, their relationships, and their dreams for the future, and how a federal guaranteed income program could change their lives.

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Katie Fleischer (she/they) is a Ms. editorial assistant working on the Front and Center series and Keeping Score.