What the child tax credit has done for my family

By Melissa Boyles

Oct 25, 2021

The new monthly payments of $250 my family and I are receiving as part of the expanded child tax credit is the reason I am able to put food on the table. As part of the American Rescue Plan, Democrats expanded the existing child tax credit for this year, nearly doubling it and giving families advance payments of up to $300 a month per child.

Now, they’re pushing to ensure this important support to parents doesn’t end after December as part of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. But Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., wants to take that away from my family and others like us.

I am a mother of two children, grandmother of one and now, with my husband, caretaker of our 15-year-old granddaughter. My husband and I were not expecting to raise another child. But when both our son and our daughter-in-law died, we, of course, welcomed our granddaughter into our home. We are lucky to have her in our lives.

We are in our 60s and both have medical issues: I am waiting for shoulder surgery, and my husband is recovering from a surgery to reroute the blood to his brain. (ICU beds can be hard to come by for scheduled surgeries because of the recent COVID-19 surge.)

This is not about our work ethic; we have worked hard our entire lives. We are simply unable to maintain jobs at this moment in our lives because of disabilities.

Yet, earlier this month, Manchin made it clear that he doesn’t think we should qualify for the child tax credit. He said he believes “work requirements” should be put in place for families to get the child tax credit, saying, “Don’t you think, if we’re going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?”

But what he doesn’t understand in introducing this caretaker penalty is that raising a child is work. It is the most difficult, time-consuming and expensive job out there.

Children will keep you up at night later than any office job. They will scream louder at you than any boss. And they will stress you out more than any busy double shift at a restaurant.

You love them fiercely; it’s the best job you will ever have. But raising the next generation is essential, worthwhile and — yes, Sen. Manchin — it is a job — a job that deserves the respect and support of our representatives in Washington.

Recently, we were finally able to pay off the mortgage on our home. This incredibly exciting moment was quickly overcome by a disappointing and sobering discovery. Paying off the mortgage meant we no longer were eligible for food stamps.

Fortunately, the child tax credit was able to fill that void and literally allow us to keep food on our table for our granddaughter.

While Manchin seems to view the new child tax credit as problematic, because of the millions of families it now helps who it didn’t reach before, I can tell you from experience that no-questions-asked extra cash was a game changer in a year that has thrown our family one devastating curveball after another.

I call on Manchin to vote in favor of the Build Back Better Act being debated in Congress that would extend the child tax credit through 2025, giving families like mine a lifeline we desperately need. If he needs help understanding why, he is welcome to come down to Clarksburg and see firsthand what life is like here as we raise our granddaughter. I am happy to share a thing or two with him about this crazy job called parenting.

Melissa Boyles lives in Clarksburg. She and her husband have sole custody of their granddaughter.


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