Parents who struggle to secure childcare for their kids during the after school hours when their parents are still working are applauding a new bill proposed by Senator Kamala Harris. The presidential hopeful proposed Family Friendly Schools Act that will aim to have school hours align more with those of the typical workplace.
Harris introduced the legislation on Wednesday in the hopes that it will better support working families who often struggle to find affordable and quality childcare for those hours between the end of the school day and the end of the workday. “My mother raised my sister and me while working demanding, long hours,” said Senator Harris. “So, I know firsthand that, for many working parents, juggling between school schedules and work schedules is a common cause of stress and financial hardship. But, this does not have to be the case. My bill provides an innovative solution that will help reduce the burden of childcare on working families. It is time we modernize the school schedule to better meet the needs of our students and their families.”
I was raised by a single mother—I know firsthand how stressful and costly it is to juggle work and school schedules. Justice for students and working families is on the ballot. My Family Friendly Schools Act will give parents more after-school opportunities for their children. pic.twitter.com/1BmAy3e99s— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 6, 2019
It's not only the early dismissal time that has parents struggling to find childcare coverage, but also the approximately 29 days throughout the school year that schools are closed, in addition to summer break. Harris's website states that three in four parents report some level of difficulty in finding childcare coverage over the summer months. So how will Harris and her Family Friendly Schools Act help? It states that the act will "give schools resources to stay open during the entire work day throughout the school year and to invest over $1 billion in enriching summer learning programs – all without forcing teachers to work longer hours or for less pay."
Lots of parents have weighed in on Twitter, saying that coverage for after school is much needed. "Having had young kids that we always had to stress about finding after school care, this is a very helpful policies for working parents, esp single moms," wrote one commenter. "I once paid close to $500 a month for 2 1/2 hours of daily after school care for two children. I know first hand the struggle of working families who can’t leave work to stay home with kids after school dismissal," wrote another. "This is an excellent program. My two grown daughters were latch key kids. I couldn't afford after school daycare. They were home for about 3 hours everyday. My oldest had the house key on a chain around her neck and called me as soon as they got home and locked in. I needed this," added another.
There were also those who questioned the act, wondering what those educators who were also parents were expected to do, and those who thought the school day is already long enough and children need more time at home to unwind and relax before homework and extracurriculars take over. Still, the support of the act is strong. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers stated that the act will help working parents find affordable and quality childcare options. “Roughly one million mothers of elementary school children cut their hours at work because of a lack of affordable child care," Weingarten said. "This bill would enable school districts and communities to find solutions that work for them, and would make sure teachers and paraprofessionals aren’t filling in the gaps without respect and fair compensation.”
Would you support this legislation?