Shantel is a Dominican immigrant and single mother, whose 8-year-old daughter is a U.S. citizen. They have lived in New York City public housing and received financial assistance since Shantel lost her job in mid-2021 after an accident. The two currently still rely on those services. “Once I had my foot surgery in June, I had to apply for unemployment, because I couldn’t receive [both] unemployment and short-term disability,” she says. Shantel had to choose between health care and housing.

Shantel used the benefits to purchase food and clothing for her daughter, who attended remote learning until schools reopened. After both mother and daughter contracted COVID-19 earlier this year, they were forced to quarantine. “I believe she got it from school,” she says.

Shantel immigrated from the Dominican Republic when she was 5 years old. Initially an undocumented immigrant, she has been a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipient for the past 10 years.

Shantel is not in contact with her immediate family, and her child’s father is absent. In the past, she called in sick from work twice in order to pick her daughter up from school, and she was fired as a result. Finding a job that sympathizes with her parental responsibilities has not been easy. “There were many times I didn’t go to work. I didn’t have anyone to watch her,” she says.

Shantel’s biggest concern is losing her work permit if “DACA was taken from us.” She says, “I would not be able to pay my rent. I would have to go to a shelter or be homeless. Or, I might [have to] go back to a place I don’t know.”

Read the full article about supporting Latinx children by Yesica Balderrama at YES! Magazine.