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MomsRising super mom, Jessica Morrison, spoke at a press conference on Capitol Hill about how the American Family Act would help her growing family. Read her story below and watch her speak here!

Good afternoon. My name is Jessica Morrison. I live just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I am a proud member of MomsRising. As the mother of a beautiful, free spirited  four-year-old named Lana, and another child due in just a few weeks, I know firsthand why we urgently need to improve and expand the Child Tax Credit, especially for families with young children. I’m here today to share my story and urge Congress to pass the American Family Act, which would help many working families like mine.

Any parent will tell you that raising children in this country today is expensive. My partner and I both work full time, but our wages aren’t high and money is really tight. With each paycheck, we have to ask tough questions about how we will cover everything we need. Will we be able to cover educational materials or playgroups to give our daughter the tools she needs to succeed? What about clothes, housing and utilities? What will we do if our car breaks down? Soon, when the baby is born, we’ll be adding expenses like diapers and baby food to the mix. It’s an incredibly stressful position to be in. There are many months when, despite our best efforts, we end up putting some expenses on a credit card just to keep our family afloat.

The tax credits we receive help, but unfortunately, the Child Tax Credit has not kept up with inflation and the rising cost of living. What’s more, it doesn’t account for the specific needs we have as a family that will soon have two children under 6 years old. The American Family Act would make a big difference for us by fixing these gaps. By raising the maximum credit, indexing for inflation, and creating a new credit for children under 6, it would ease a lot of our day-to-day stress by helping us handle the expenses that come with having young children.

For example, one expense we really struggle with is childcare. My daughter is not old enough for school yet, but we can’t afford the unbelievably expensive childcare options in our area. Still, we need two incomes to make ends meet. My  partner worked in jewelry for 10 years but currently works driving for Uber and Lyft so he can spend four days a week at home with our daughter while driving nights and weekends. His schedule is grueling, to say the least. Then one day a week, on Fridays, I make a very long drive to bring our daughter to her grandmother’s, so my partner can take care of other things he needs to do.

The whole situation is incredibly stressful, and especially challenging with a second child on the way. Our income is reduced because my husband needs to stay home four days a week. And because someone has to be home with Lana, we have to work around each other and don’t get a lot of time together as a family. It’s exhausting!  Still, it’s the only way we can make ends meet.

If Congress passes the American Family Act, our lives would improve. If we had more resources to pay for childcare and other expenses, we could both remain in the workforce, working the hours we need to, in jobs that give us a chance to get ahead while also spending more time bonding as a family. We could pay down the debts we end up accruing. On an emotional level, it would take a huge amount of stress off our shoulders, and we would get to enjoy more precious family time at a crucial time in our children’s development.

In short, the American Family Act would be a lifeline for families like ours as we strive to give our children the healthy, secure start they deserve. And because the American Family Act would make the Child Tax Credit fully refundable, it would reach even more of the families who need it most.

I hope Congress will make passing the American Family Act a high priority. The improvements it makes to the Child Tax Credit are long overdue, and it would boost children’s health and families’ economic security nationwide. I know my family would be better off. Thank you. 

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