LAUSD to provide child-care subsidies to employees to ease return to campus

The Los Angeles Unified School District will provide $500 monthly subsidies to eligible employees needing child care in order for them to return to campuses, the district said Monday, April 5.

The announcement comes about three weeks after teachers raised concerns about having to scramble to make child care arrangements after learning they would have to return to in-person work this month as schools reopen.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit more than a year ago, many child care centers have closed, reduced their capacity to meet health and safety standards or raised their rates, the teachers said. The district also cited these reasons for providing the subsidies.

Full-time employees will receive a monthly stipend of $500 for each child age 5 or younger with proof that they are enrolled in a state-licensed child care program. The subsidies will be offered the rest of this school year and to employees working as part of the district’s summer school program through July 31.

About 5,000 employees with a total of 7,300 children are eligible for the program, according to a district spokesperson. If every eligible child enrolled in a state-licensed child care facility, it would cost the district $3.65 million a month, though it’s likely some employees won’t enroll their children in a qualifying program.

It’s unclear how the district will pay for the subsidies, though it is anticipating up to about $5.2 billion in coronavirus relief aid from the state and federal government.

“We have done all we can to take care of our employees, from Hero Pay and extended medical benefits to COVID tests and vaccinations,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a statement, laying out some of the services or benefits provided to workers during the pandemic. “The support for childcare is another step we’re taking to help our employees so they can keep doing all they can to serve the needs of students and their families.”

The district is also working with Service Employees International Union Local 99, Carina Care and the Child Care Alliance of Los Angeles to help employees find in-home and center-based care for their children.

“It’s a critical first step in the reopening and recovery process,” SEIU Local 99 Executive Director Max Arias stated. “We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Los Angeles Unified and other partners to help working families find long-term solutions to the need for quality, affordable care for their children.”

Maya Suzuki Daniels, a teacher at San Pedro High School who started a petition last month calling on to grant educators with young children waivers to continue teaching remotely from home for at least the rest of this school year, said she was “thrilled” by what she sees as a “first step towards a stronger school district and community emerging from the pandemic — providing employment to childcare providers, benefits for LAUSD employees, and socialization and enrichment opportunities for our children.”

“We still need to acknowledge that is not a comprehensive solution, and will not help many of our educators and their families, including those with children in different districts and those with at-risk children who cannot be placed in childcare facilities at this time,” she wrote in an email. “With that said, this shows what we can do when we work together to advocate for our needs, and I am hopeful that we can push to see all employers provide stronger childcare and family support to their employees.”

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