Child tax credits help. The Working Families Tax Credit can do even more.

Mar 19, 2024 | Blog

By Amy Lee Funes, Ed Trust–NY and Raising NY Early Childhood Policy and Advocacy Lab member

My son Leo is an active, happy four-year-old preschooler on the Autism Spectrum. As with any child, he has many needs — whether it is having access to special diets, programs that support his development, or anything that comes up day-to-day.

When Leo was younger, I had to make the difficult decision as a single mom to leave the workforce permanently due to the lack of affordable child care in my Queens, New York community.

The Empire State Child Credit — which provides up to $100 per child for children ages 0-18 — helped me take care of the essentials for Leo’s well-being and focus on being a mom during this time — such as buying diapers in bulk to save money. This year, the New York State Legislature is considering the Working Families Tax Credit, which could go even further for families across New York State.

The Working Families Tax Credit is a stronger version of a tax credit for families. It combines a few smaller tax benefits, including the Empire Child Credit, to make it easier for families to receive credits in one. For the first time ever, this tax credit would include families with the lowest income households and provide at least a $500 credit for each child, up to a maximum of $1,600. It would also be available to all tax-filing families, regardless of citizenship status. And to help with financial planning, families could receive the credit in quarterly payments.

As a single mom, my dollars are spent ensuring Leo has a fulfilling childhood with all his needs met. Just like other parents and caregivers, I want to expose my son to the world out there through events and play dates with other children to support his learning. Additional funds from the Working Families Tax Credit would allow me to be more creative in planning these events for Leo, and the quarterly payment schedule would give me more flexibility to plan for the full year.

In partnership with Ed Trust–NY and Raising NY’s Early Childhood Policy and Advocacy Lab, I am advocating for this legislation alongside other parents and caregivers across the state. While each of our stories of raising our children are different and equally important, they thread together a common theme that highlights how New York State needs to do more to support families with young children.

The Working Families Tax Credit is one way that New York State can show a commitment to young children and their families — especially at a time when there are plenty of parents and caregivers like me who cannot find high-quality, affordable child care and must leave the workforce entirely — or are paying a significant amount of their income on child care.

I have so many goals and dreams for Leo. I want to ensure that my son — and other New York children — have the support and resources they need to thrive. The Working Families Tax Credit would help achieve that by putting more New York families on the path to economic stability and in turn, creating a brighter future for our children.