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Earlene Stewart-McEachin Charlotte, NC

Credit for caregiving

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Earlene Stewart-McEachin is a proud 42-year-old wife and mother of five children, ages 24, 22, 18, 14, and 10, from Charlotte, North Carolina. Originally from New York, Earlene has been working since tha age of 14. She has worked primarily as a school teacher’s aide.

During the majority of her children’s school-aged years, she and her husband worked opposite shifts to cover childcare because they could not afford to pay for childcare, nor could they afford for one to stop working. Her husband has primarily worked as a manual laborer, but with scarce opportunities, he has recently been working at a fast food restaurant to provide their household with a modest income. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, Earlene was forced to leave her job. Now they are piecing together their finances, and Earlene has become proficient in managing due dates and cut-off notices as a part of her “Stay at home” responsibilities.

They have three children left in the nest. Even with finances in disarray, Earlene is aware of the benefits of working at home. The kids grades are better, and I can actually help them with homework and be there when I am needed,” Earlene said.

“I love to see the growth of children. I worked with special needs kids in the school system, so to see my own kids reach milestones was a blessing. This year, while working at home, I was able to see my son graduate from high school and head to the military. But even in all the excitement, I am worried about our finances now and in the future.”

Earlene is excited about the idea of a Caregiver Credit because it would allow those who are caring for loved ones to do so without penalty in the Social Security system. “As a wife and a mom, it would be nice to not have a ‘zero’ credit while staying home and caring for my children.”

Earlene’s heart to help and serve should not put her future in jeopardy. Her work as a teacher’s aide for special needs children is highly sought after, but poorly paid, meaning her Social Security benefits will be low. Counting the two years that she cared for loved ones as “zero” income will further penalize her and fail to honor the work that she has done as a caregiver for her loved ones.