For This Working Mother, the Child Care Credit Makes All the Difference

By Lauren Pescatorechristiectc

Christie Porter is a working mother of two young boys living in California, a state that ranks sixth highest in the nation for cost of living but offers a minimum wage of only $9.00 per hour. Christie works full time at a manufacturing company and her husband is employed full time as a service worker for their city’s water department.

With both parents working 40-plus hours per week, Christie’s two sons require all-day child care. But neither parent’s job pays enough to cover the high cost of full-time daycare. To make matters worse, as Christie’s income has increased over the past few years, so have her taxes. This puts Christie in a nearly impossible situation. “I want to work full time,” Christie says. “I want my husband to be able to work full time. But how are we supposed to do that if we aren’t being paid enough to afford full time child care?”

Fortunately, the Porters qualify for the federal Child Care Credit, which Christie says has made all the difference in balancing work and family life. The credit allows families like Christie’s to claim up to $3,000 in child care expenses for one child and $6,000 for two children each year. The credit is worth between 20 percent and 35 percent of these expenses, depending on a family’s income.President Obama, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and a number of other Congressional Democrats have recently released proposals to expand the Child Care Credit.

In addition to allowing both she and her husband to continue working full time, Christie says the Child Care Credit has helped them save for their children’s education and any unforeseen financial emergencies down the road. With the credit helping to cover the cost of daycare, the couple is also able to make necessary car and home repairs – and generate economic activity in their community. “We use local contractors and businesses for our home and car repairs,” she says. “That’s money going directly back into our local economy.”

Christie and her family are also among the 80,000 households that would benefit from a California EITC, which is under consideration this legislative session. The legislation (AB 43), authored by Assemblyman Mark Stone and sponsored by United Ways of California, would create a refundable state EITC calculated at 35 percent of the federal credit for families like Christie’s with children under age five. If the legislation passes, California would become the 27th state in the nation (including Washington, D.C.) to offer a state EITC.

“I want to encourage my representatives to take action,” Christie says. A state EITC coupled with the existing federal credits available for California’s working families would bring much needed relief to those living in the Golden State and not earning enough to make ends meet. Learn more about the proposal and its potential impact on California families like Christie’s here.