SACRAMENTO – Los Angeles Unified Teachers and other staff with young children will receive a $ 500 monthly childcare grant when they return to classrooms after a year of campus closure.
Full-time employees in the country’s second-largest school district receive the monthly allowance if they have children up to the age of 5, the district announced on Monday.
School employees, including supervisors and bus drivers, receive a grant for each eligible child through the end of the semester and if they work over the summer. Service Employees International Union Local 99, which represents classified school employees, made a request to the district last week, suggesting granting teachers as well.
The deal comes after highly competitive reopening negotiations between Los Angeles Unified and union members resulted in some of the strictest school safety protocols in the country, including rigorous virus testing and guaranteed teacher vaccinations.
Los Angeles Unified will be welcoming some of its younger students back next week for the first time since last March’s pandemic.
“It has been a very long year since Covid-19 led to the closure of schools and many of our employees have had to balance their responsibilities at work with the need to care for their own families, including young children,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement on Monday: “We have done everything to take care of our employees, from hero pay and advanced medical services to Covid tests and vaccinations. Supporting childcare is another step we take to help our staff keep doing everything they can to meet the needs of students and their families. “
It was not immediately clear how many LAUSD staff would be eligible for the program, although UTLA asked the district to interview the parents of the educators to determine the need. LAUSD already has a childcare program that teachers can use, but children who are not of school age or visiting another district are not eligible.
The recent request for childcare outraged some parents, including key workers like healthcare and grocers, who have not received such subsidies and have not been able to work from home this year like teachers overseeing distance learning.
Other teacher unions in California have similar arrangements, with many security guidelines that allow them to get their young children to work. The question seems unique to California.
When press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the Los Angeles plan by a reporter at the White House on Monday, he pushed herself to local leaders. “I would direct you to the state of California and the local school districts to have these discussions,” she said.
Los Angeles Unified’s program, which could be seen as a role model for other unions fighting for childcare, will focus on daycare at home Carina carethat connects providers with government-funded customers.
Los Angeles Unified and the unions on Monday recognized the childcare crisis in California, saying that school workers saw local daycare increase rates and reduce capacity during the pandemic.
Even before the pandemic, the state tried to provide enough places for young children who qualify for subsidized care, but the coronavirus exacerbated access problems. According to the Center for the Study of Childcare Employment77 percent of programs in California suffered a loss of family income in 2020 as providers struggled to keep up with Covid-19 requirements and families dropped out because they could no longer work from home or afford care.
California teachers, who often fail to meet the income thresholds for subsidized care but have struggled to afford childcare in large cities where the cost of living has skyrocketed, have long urged districts to provide such support for mothers and working families.
“This is a critical first step in the reopening and recovery process,” said Max Arias, executive director of SEIU Local 99, in a statement on the subsidy on Monday.