Thank you to Martha Mouret-Sanders, an educator and mother of two, for sharing how beneficial the Child Tax Credit has been for her family at the White House Event on the American Rescue Plan and Unity Agenda.
Hello! My name is Martha Mouret-Sanders. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband, our five-year-old son and our two-year-old daughter. I am a sixth grade teacher and a proud member of MomsRising. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today about what my family and my community have faced during the pandemic, and what we need to recover.
I got a job as a teacher in Dallas in 20-20. I am passionate about education, and I was excited to help out given the teacher shortage across Texas, and especially the shortage of bilingual teachers.
When I first started teaching, schools were entirely remote. It was so hard not to be able to meet my students, especially because I knew how much they were struggling. Most of my students come from low-income families and many struggled to adjust to virtual learning. Many had parents who had lost jobs and were in financial crisis. I did everything I could to support them, but it was incredibly stressful.
At the same time, my own family has been struggling. Raising two young kids on a teacher’s salary is difficult. The cost of living and the cost of child care are really high in Dallas, and we’re barely able to scrape by. We struggle to pay our electric bills, gas, health care, and diapers and to build savings. We even had to tap into my husband’s Teacher Retirement Savings account.
My husband and I both have master’s degrees, but we can barely make ends meet. So when the expanded Child Tax Credit payments started last July, it was a huge help. We received $600/month and used it to pay for the kids' dental care, which we couldn’t afford before. We bought educational computer programs to support our son’s virtual learning. He also fell behind on socialization and we found getting him a bike and spending more time outdoors was helpful. And of course this Child Tax Credit helped pay for routine things like formula, diapers, school supplies and uniforms. Overall it was a big help!
Now that those payments have stopped, we’re back to making decisions on whether to pay for our electric bill, Internet bill, or take the kids out for extracurricular activities that help with their personal growth and mental wellbeing. I know many of my students’ families are also struggling without the Child Tax Credit payments. We need to make sure children’s needs are met. I really hope Congress reinstates the Child Tax Credit quickly.
My community needs the Child Tax Credit to be permanent, and we need Congress to invest in a care infrastructure that supports kids, families, and our economy. That includes paid leave, child care, and funding for education. The emergency relief funding Congress passed last year was a great start. Those funds helped my school reopen so I could finally interact with my students in-person.
It also means a lot to me as an educator and a mom that President Biden has made children’s mental health a priority. I know firsthand that kids could really use more support. I see the ways my students are struggling to cope with their emotions and build their social skills after so much isolation. As a teacher and a mom, I see how this pandemic has a huge impact on our next generation. Teachers are on the forefront to help them through this. We don’t want this pandemic to leave permanent scars in their lives.
My husband and I were born in Mexico and have been here lawfully for 20 years. Our children were born here. We’ve both served on the front lines of this pandemic as teachers but we don’t have a clear pathway to citizenship. We hope the administration can help immigrant families like mine.
I hope Congress will prioritize all of these policies because I know kids, families and communities cannot thrive without them. Thank you.