While we were glad to see the child benefit of $500 per child under age 17 in the latest stimulus package, on top of $1200 in cash assistance per individual, that payment must be made ongoing rather than one time only.
As the House and Senate negotiate stimulus packages now and in the coming weeks, it is vital that they include measures to put money directly in the hands of unwaged caregivers who are on the frontlines of caring for our families, birthing and caring for children, doing the caring work every day that is essential to the survival of our families, communities, and the planet, through this and every disaster. As family and community caregivers we are the anchors and the lifeboats for our loved ones, children, the elderly those who are impoverished, disabled, in ill physical or mental health. Those of us who are immigrant, and/or Black or Brown, including Indigenous, are at greater risk. Increasingly mothers and our children are a large percentage of the homeless, and mothers are the fastest growing population of people being imprisoned.
If money doesn’t go directly to the primary caregiver, women will be put at even greater risk of domestic violence and will lack the means to escape it. Studies have shown that primary caregivers getting money directly is the best insurance that the money will benefit the entire family starting with children. Because unwaged caregivers are not now getting a paycheck does not mean we are not working!
Even as legislation is passed to send checks to people in the US, from what we understand, those who have not filed taxes or don’t have a Social Security number, meaning the most impoverished among us, will get nothing. According to the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, there are 140 million people in the US at or close to the poverty line, and 73% of them are women and our children.
Money for Mothers and our Children
Caregivers’ unwaged work contributed $470 billion or more to the 2017 US economy, according to the AARP. But while money can be found to bail out Wall Street, money cannot be found for us. And the most impoverished mothers, those on welfare, are treated as undeserving charity cases. Meanwhile in other western countries, governments pay a non-means tested child benefit or family allowance, for example the maximum annual benefit in Canada is $6,639 per child under age 6 and $5,602 per child age 6 through 17. These amounts are now being increased as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Stimulus Package. World-wide women and girls do more than three-quarters of all unpaid care work in the world with a total of 12.5 billion hours a day. Experts value this at $10.8 trillion but never suggest that women should get any of it.