Meet a Pennsylvania mom set to lose her unemployment benefits because she can't send her kid back to school. 'They should not end any benefits until at least there is a vaccine for all ages.'

Meet a Pennsylvania mom set to lose her unemployment benefits because she can't send her kid back to school. 'They should not end any benefits until at least there is a vaccine for all ages.'
Amanda Rinehart. Amanda Rinehart
  • On Labor Day, 7.5 million Americans are projected to lose all of their unemployment benefits.
  • One is Amanda Rinehart, 33, a mother in Pennsylvania who left her job to care for her child.
  • With the pandemic still raging and her child too young for a vaccine, she will have to stay home.

Amanda Rinehart, 33, loved her job in hospitality.

She had just been promoted when the pandemic took its toll on her career. In October 2020, she had to quit to care for her son while he attended school virtually. Her 8-year-old is too young to be vaccinated, and the Delta variant is a concern for kids returning to school and the parents that take care of them.

Rinehart is one of the millions of parents and mothers whose entire livelihood was disrupted by the pandemic. Between March and April 2020, 3.5 million mothers dropped out of active work, according to the Census Bureau, and 10 million mothers weren't working as of January - that's a third of all mothers who live with school-aged kids in the US.

With Delta cases on the rise just as back-to-school season begins, return to normalcy looks far off. Experts told Insider that mothers may not return to work for months.

"Right now, a year later, the coronavirus is still out there and it's affecting kids," Rinehart said.


Rinehart has been on a federal unemployment program, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), which extends how long workers can receive benefits. She told Insider that the PEUC program has her "staying afloat," able to take care of her bills and rent. The problem is it's expiring on September 6 without any permanent replacement.

The left-leaning Century Foundation projects that 7.5 million people, including Rinehart, will lose all of their benefits at the Labor Day cut-off.

Here is Rinehart's story in her own words, edited for brevity.

I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to do financially.

My son will continue to be virtual this year for the fact that he is high risk for Covid, and that there is no vaccines for these children under 12 years old.

I think it's a shame that they're going to cut these benefits, not knowing everyone's situations are very different, or some may be similar to mine. I'm honestly not sure what I'm going to be doing financially moving forward without these benefits from unemployment.


With the unemployment benefits, I was staying afloat. I was able to control my bills and my rent. I do have some money saved up from the stimulus checks, however, that's not going to last very long. My rent alone is $1,100 a month. I know there are other resources out there, but, again, they can only do so much and it's not guaranteed that I'm going to receive any of those benefits.

I feel like they should not end any benefits until at least there is a vaccine for all ages of the people in America. There should be a vaccine for everyone, including kids under 12 before we decide to just end the benefits.

To be a parent in this pandemic is very scary.

My son got a rhinovirus a couple of years ago and he was in the hospital for quite a few days, and then is very lucky to be home. So who knows what COVID-19 would do to him?

There's no way that these kids are going to keep a mask on all day, nor social distance. They're children, it's going to be nearly impossible. So kids that have underlying medical conditions, it's dangerous for them to go and possibly be exposed to COVID-19.

I actually had to switch his school. He was in a really good school and unfortunately, they weren't offering any virtual. Under the circumstances with him, I had to enroll him in public schooling to be able to be virtual.


The instructions for the online schooling, the parent needs to be in the room with the child during class for any complications or technical difficulties that they would be having.

Obviously, when there's a vaccine available for my son, he will return to school and I will be able to return to work with joy.

When I went to work, that was my sanity. That was my break from being stuck in this house. I'm literally losing it, being in this house all day with my child and protecting him, during school time and stuff like that.

My long-term plan is absolutely to return to work after there's a safe vaccine for these kids.

Keep in mind that there is still not yet a vaccine for children under 12 years old. We're going to have really challenging - maybe impossible - times without those benefits. I would tell [the governor] to be knowledgeable of every person's unique situations on the reasoning on why people cannot return to work.

I would tell [President Joe Biden] the same exact thing.