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‘Crashing down’: How the child care crisis is magnifying racial disparities

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Ninety-three percent of child care workers are women, and 45 percent are Black, Asian or Latino, while half of child care businesses are minority-owned.

The collapse of the child care industry is hitting women of color the hardest, threatening to stoke racial and gender inequities and putting pressure on Congress to address the crisis in its new round of coronavirus aid.

Black and Latina women are suffering a double-barreled blow as coronavirus-induced shutdowns batter the industry, since they dominate the ranks of child care providers and have long struggled to gain access to the services for their own kids.

The sector, which saw 60 percent of its programs close at the height of the pandemic before rebounding slightly, is still down some 237,000 workers from last year — a number that’s likely to grow as states shut down again, economists say. Some projections show the industry could permanently lose half its programs. Two in 5 child care providers this month said they will shut for good without an infusion of federal funding.

The issue is shaping up to be a key faultline as Congress this week enters negotiations over the next round of coronavirus aid, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he hopes to clear before August recess.

If “we allow them to go under, we are jeopardizing both the incomes and wealth of that workforce,” said Melissa Boteach, a vice president at National Women’s Law Center. And “the parents who are not going to be able to go back to work or who are going to have to give up their careers or jobs for less pay — because they can’t find the child care to cover the hours that they need — are disproportionately going to be women and women of color.”

Ninety-three percent of child care workers are women, and 45 percent are Black, Asian or Latino, according to Labor Department data. And half of child care businesses are minority-owned. At the same time, Black and Latina mothers are more likely to be the family breadwinners, more likely to hold low-paying jobs, more likely to be considered essential workers, and more likely to live in child care deserts.

Democrats have put forth two proposals that would appropriate more than $60 billion to the industry, which they say are just a starting point. The measures, H.R. 7027 and H.R. 7327, cleared the House Rules Committee Friday and are expected on the floor July 29, lawmakers said. Both include provisions that would give priority to providers serving low-income, “low-supply” and other high-need communities.

The Child Care Is Essential Act, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) in the House, would appropriate $50 billion for the establishment of a grant program within the Department of Homeland Security’s Child Care and Development Block Grants that would aid providers that have either remained open or are temporarily closed due to Covid-19. Senate Democrats included identical language in their Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act, S. 4112, which Minority Leader Chuck Schumer advocated for on a press call Tuesday.

The Child Care for Economy Recovery Act, introduced by Democrats in the House Ways and Means and Appropriations committees last month, would take a broader look at rescuing the industry — creating and expanding tax cuts, in addition to appropriating $10 billion for a new grant program for states to improve their child care infrastructure.

“When you look at the impact on providers and providers of color, and women of color who are parents looking for jobs, we really created a perfect storm,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), vice chair of the Democratic caucus and a sponsor of both bills.

Separately, Schumer on Thursday released a plan to aid communities of color, which would include $135 billion for child care, health care and job training. And the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, rolled out a $750 billion proposal Tuesday that would bolster the industry, including by providing free preschool for all 3- and 4-year-olds, building new child care facilities, and creating tax credits for informal caregivers.

Republicans agree the industry needs help. A group of 41 GOP House members sent a letter to leadership Thursday calling for “additional, targeted support.” But they’re likely to pursue a different approach than Democrats, as well as a lower level of funding.

“I do want additional dollars going toward child care,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who unveiled a Senate GOP proposal last week. But “we simply, as a nation, can’t do another $3-plus trillion package.”

Top Republicans including Senate HELP Chair Lamar Alexander of Tennessee are behind Ernst’s plan, which would create a grant program that would give up to nine months of financial assistance to child care providers for coverage of coronavirus-related expenses. It would also offer technical aid to help a diversity of providers access the program.

Though the bill appropriates no new money to the industry, Ernst and Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) offered a resolution in May proposing that the next coronavirus relief package include $25 billion for the Child Care and Block Development Grant program. They’re still pushing for that funding, Ernst told POLITICO, and the grant program “could be a subset” of that.

Democrats slammed the proposal for not providing enough.

“To say ‘we’re going to pass something without a dime in it’ is really not an approach that is workable,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the top ranking Democrat on the HELP Committee and sponsor of S. 4112, as well as the Senate companion to H.R. 7027. Even $25 billion “is not enough to address this crisis.”

It’s unclear what middle ground the parties will reach. But it looks like the package will include significantly higher levels of investment in child care than previous legislation. The CARES Act appropriated $3.5 billion to the Child Care and Block Development Grant program, while the HEROES Act — the House-passed Democratic proposal for the next round of aid — would appropriate $7 billion.

The Trump administration has remained mostly mute on the topic, focusing more on reopening schools.

“We obviously do want more child care providers,” Brooke Rollins, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, said at a POLITICO eventThursday. “There’s no doubt that is an issue that will remain a priority for this White House.” But “we’ve also been very clear that we believe that schools need to reopen.”

Economists say that even pre-pandemic, the industry was stretched thin, operating on minuscule margins and accessible mainly to the wealthiest — and whitest — communities.

“Covid has poured salt in those wounds,” Elise Gould, an economist with the Economic Policy Center, said. “It’s not just out of reach, it’s unavailable.”

These pre-existing weaknesses, combined with the increasing number of schools that have announced they will not be opening come fall, signal the need for an immediate response.

“Child care providers have been pushed to the brink, and they’re going to start closing,” Katie Hamm, a vice president at the Democratic-leaning Center for American Progress, said. “We’re hitting a crescendo on this where if Congress doesn’t do something, it’s all going to come crashing down.”

This blog originally appeared at Politico on July 21, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Eleanor Mueller is a legislative reporter for POLITICO Pro, covering policy passing through Congress. She also authors Day Ahead, POLITICO Pro’s daily newsletter rounding up Capitol Hill goings-on.

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Working parents cannot return to their jobs if they can’t afford diapers

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It’s not yet clear if the forms of economic activity resuming in most states will quickly reduce the nation’s high unemployment rates, but one thing is certain: it won’t happen without diapers. Most child care operators will not accept a baby or toddler unless parents supply disposable diapers. This has always been a barrier to employment for families in poverty. Pre-COVID-19, one in five U.S families reported missing work or school because they lacked the diapers required to leave their baby in child care. As so many people experience losses of income, that barrier becomes far more common.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is urging Congress to fund diaper assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. The National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN) has been working behind the scenes to urge elected officials to take this step, because we know the economic and health consequences to children and families unable to access diapers. Even before the pandemic, the leaders of this effort, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa were strong advocates for the one in three U.S. families who cannot afford an adequate supply of diapers for their children. Everyone at NDBN is grateful to the senators and to the bipartisan group that joined them in the request.

Of course, that one in three number quantifies diaper need in ordinary times, which these obviously are not. As unemployment rose, and parents around the country lost wages because of the crisis, NDBN’s 200-plus member diaper banks working in local communities have reported skyrocketing demand for help. Programs have been organizing drive-through diaper distributions as the number of families seeking help triples in some communities.

The senators are promoting diaper assistance through a $200 million Social Services Block Grant in the next emergency recovery package. Diaper banks would use that money to procure and distribute more diapers, which they sorely need to do.

Public programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants and Children Food and Nutrition Service (WIC) cannot be used to purchase diapers. The only game in town is usually the local diaper bank, which relies heavily on donations and volunteer help. In 2019, NDBN members provided children and families with nearly 80 million donated diapers. While that represents an amazing amount of work and donor generosity, a recent study found that relying on philanthropy alone only meets 4% of national diaper need. And remember: that’s diaper need in ordinary times, not during a global pandemic. The scale of diaper need is so great that the philanthropic community, even with the support of the business community, cannot meet it alone. Government is the only entity large enough to end diaper need, and it always has been.

Diapers cost about $80 per month, per child. For a family on a tight budget, that creates an impossible choice: “Do we buy diapers or food?” A study of clients served by the Diaper Bank of Connecticut found that most families receiving diaper assistance included working adults, but too many jobs in the U.S. do not pay a living wage. Diaper need especially affects workers who, during the pandemic, are finally being recognized as essential: people who keep nursing homes and grocery stores running; people working in shipping depots and making deliveries; people who do the cleaning and restock the shelves. The least we can do for these workers, as they provide these tremendous services that keep our country running, is make sure that their children have diapers.

During the time of COVID-19, we have all frequently heard variations of the sentiment “We’re all in this together.” That idea is made real by people with 3D printers pulling all-nighters to make PPE for strangers, by ad-hoc relief funds springing up for displaced workers, and by the many calls the staff at NDBN field from people asking, “How can I help?”

When it comes to diaper need, you can check out the National Diaper Bank Networkand find your local diaper bank. The Daily Kos Community has already generously supported our efforts through the Daily Kos COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund. You can also join us on Twitter at @diapernetwork on July 1 and contact your members of Congress to let them know that you support diaper assistance for families impacted by the pandemic and beyond.Visit the #EndDiaperNeed hashtag to follow along. 

More than anything, remember how you feel right now. Remember your intense concern about your neighbor’s well-being, and never let go of that.

For people who live in poverty, every day brings crises, even in the best of times. There are myriad ways we need to remake the world so that this will not be so. Diapers are a small and absolutely doable way to start.          

This blog originally appeared at Daily Kos on June 29, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Joanne Goldblum serves as chief executive officer of National Diaper Bank Network (NDBN). NDBN is dedicated to helping individuals, children and families access the basic necessities they require to thrive and reach their full potential.

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Parents are ready to return to work, but where will their kids go?

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The resurgence of California’s economy — the fifth largest in the world — could rest on one sector shattered by the pandemic: child care.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The resurgence of California’s economy — the fifth largest in the world — could rest on one sector in particular that’s been shattered by the pandemic: child care.

Steep revenue losses and costly new health and safety requirements are putting beleaguered child care programs out of existence in the high-cost state just as more parents return to the workplace. Even a relatively small percentage of closures could have an outsize effect given pre-pandemic shortages, experts say.

That could sideline workers and hamper recovery efforts, particularly in California’s signature tourism, entertainment and dining sectors where remote work is simply not possible. States across the country are experiencing the same challenge as more parents are ready to return to work but may have few options for their children.

“I really feel like we can’t reopen the economy until we open our child care centers, and I would extend that to K-12 as well,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who ran an early education nonprofit before entering politics.

In sectors such as leisure and hospitality, as well as many jobs in health care, construction and manufacturing, “there is very little ability to work from home and be able to juggle your hours around child care,” said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The situation also has a disproportionate effect on women, she said, who remain more likely to assume the burden of caring for children and elders, even if they work outside the home.

Further complicating the child care equation is the K-12 school system, which educates some 6 million children in California. The state Department of Education suggested last week that schools could reopen for as few as two days a week to maintain smaller group sizes and social distancing.

The availability of before- and after-school programs will be critical, said Rachel Michelin, president of the California Retailers Association. “If that doesn’t happen, it’s going to be a mess because that really provided a lot of affordable child care for a lot of folks,” she said.

The CARES Act provided an additional $3.5 billion to help child care programs weather the pandemic, of which California received $350 million. Some child care centers also managed to receive federal aid under the Paycheck Protection Program, buying them time to figure out a plan. But advocates say more is needed from Washington, along the lines of a new, $50 billion proposal from Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

“The airlines got a huge subsidy,” said Eric Sonnenfeld of the Tulare County Office of Education, which runs 22 early childhood education programs in the heart of California’s Central Valley. “We’re looking to something of the same degree.”

In California, 72 percent of home-based day cares surveyed in late April reported they had remained open through the pandemic, caring for children of essential workers, according to a late April poll of child care providers by the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment. 

But just 34 percent of the state’s licensed centers — which, combined, have roughly twice the capacity as home-based providers — kept their doors open this spring, it found.

Those reductions came on top of widespread closures of campus-based child care for school-age children as California districts ended physical classes in mid-March.

California on Friday allowed a wide array of sectors to reopen, which is sure to increase demand for child care. But centers that closed abruptly in March are figuring out if, when and how to reopen with cohorts of just 10 children, as the CDC has recommended. In many cases, that’s half the number of children that once shared a classroom. 

Like K-12 schools, child care centers face a difficult choice to maintain social distancing, especially in a recession. They could hire more staff and acquire additional space. Or they could reduce their enrollment. Both come with cost pressures, either through greater expenses or lower revenues, in a sector that historically has operated on the thinnest of margins.

Programs across the country are in the same precarious position as they try to adapt to the costly new requirements, said Beth Bye, a former Connecticut state senator who now leads that state’s Office of Early Childhood.

“The economic model doesn’t work that well,” Bye said of child care programs generally. “Now you take a business that was barely holding on and say, ‘You can take half as many kids.’ The math just doesn’t work.”

Sonnenfeld says he has been getting calls from Tulare County parents, wondering when they can once again send their kids to his county’s state preschool and Head Start programs. He still doesn’t have a firm answer.

“Businesses are reopening, restaurants are reopening, retail is reopening again,” he said, “but our county superintendent has been very adamant that it has to be safe — not only for students, but for staff — to return.”

While many regions will lack enough child care to meet demand, some providers say they can’t easily replace long-enrolled families choosing to stay home.

In addition to the continuing spread of the virus — and a lack of data on the transmission of Covid-19 by asymptomatic children — is a problem of reliable demand: Some parents might keep their children home as a health precaution or because they’re out of work. 

Yessika Magdaleno stayed open when the pandemic hit, caring for the children of nurses, fast food workers and grocery store employees at her home in the Orange County city of Garden Grove. But earlier this month she said nine of the 16 children who had been in her care before the pandemic had not returned. 

“I don’t know after June how we’re going to survive if more than half of my children are not here,” she said. 

Some parents haven’t even heard from their children’s programs amid the chaos of the pandemic, said Mary Ignatius, a longtime organizer for Parent Voices, a parent-led organizing effort. 

“Just figuring out who’s going to be open when everything goes ‘back to normal’ is going to be a test,” Ignatius said. “I think that’s been a lingering pit in every parent’s stomach: ‘I don’t know what is going to happen. I don’t know what this new normal is going to look like.'”

In California, child care has some important allies in the Legislature, including Rendon (D-Lakewood). He said he first met Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), now the state Senate’s budget chair, 20 years ago at a rally for early education funding. 

Legislative leaders rejected Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to cut reimbursement rates for state-subsidized child care by 10 percent, a move the governor himself would cancel if federal leaders provide budget relief. Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) called that cut “a nonstarter,” saying in an interview that it would “be a death knell for a lot of these programs.”

Newsom in April waived certain eligibility restrictions for state child care assistance to help essential workers who may not have previously qualified for subsidies. He also introduced an online portal to help connect families with child care, Mychildcare.ca.gov, that allows parents to search for child care facilities by ZIP code, including hundreds of new “pop-up” centers the state established in response to the pandemic.

Several lawmakers, anticipating child care challenges, are advancing bills to expand job-protected leave for working parents who need to stay home and care for their children, arguing that parents shouldn’t be forced to choose between their children’s safety and keeping their jobs.

Rendon said he worries about the effect on children’s development if they stay home from school much longer. Hand-washing and other health protocols have long been embedded in child care programs, he said, making them better positioned than other settings to open with proper precautions. 

Still, he said, “People are still quite scared. And to drop off your child, that’s a tremendous leap of faith.”

This blog originally appeared at Politico on June 11, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Katy Murphy covers consumer regulations with a focus on data privacy for POLITICO California. Before joining the team, she was a one-woman Capitol bureau for the The Mercury News and East Bay Times and previously covered K-12 and higher education for more than a decade, based in the Bay Area.

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How to Remain Professional Whilst Caring for Children at Home?

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As a parent of the three children, all of which are under 11, the dramatic shift to remote working from home for students and professionals alike has been a sudden and challenging shake up to the daily routine.

The million-dollar question for all parents who now find themselves acting as a full time parent and professional has become ‘how do I juggle my commitments?’. The shift of focus has been from trying to decide whether we are dressed appropriately for a video call to ‘mummy, can you help me with…’.

So, how do you remain professional and working efficiently whilst your responsibilities are pulling you in a number of different directions? I’ve complied a list of some methods that I have found to be useful:

Regardless of how structured you are, some form of timetable will be necessary

Whether this is as detailed as an implementation plan from work, with activity, who, when, resources required and challenges, or whether you find a more relaxed approach works for your family, with simply a range of suggested activities, with breaks and lunch interspersed; some structure will be needed to allow you to prepare for the challenges that each day will bring.

Arrange your calls and their activities accordingly  

Be honest with your boss, explain that you are having to juggle more than normal now; in the main they will understand and if a regular call must be moved back by half an hour, so be it.  Consider how long a call is going to last? To avoid interruption, what activity will take them through this period?

Make a to do list 

I love a list and generally have one on the go to just get by, however in times like this maybe a more sophisticated, prioritised list is required.  What is urgent and what is a nice to do, be realistic about what you can achieve. Are there time robbers cropping up which can be put on hold whilst you get through the next few weeks.  Do not let yourself get distracted with easier things to do like laundry, and although for most of us, there will be a reliance on technology in our work, try to avoid social media during the day, or set yourself some specific time for a social media catch up. 

When preparing for your day, anticipate demands 

If you have suggested colouring as an activity, ensure you provide paper and pens, so you don’t get interrupted with requests for these. Unfortunately, if your children are like mine, no they can’t find them themselves!  If you suggest screen time, make sure batteries are charged.  Don’t beat yourself up about encouraging screen time, you won’t be alone. If you have a longer call and you know there will be demands for food, have something suitable prepared that you can give them.

Balance your time

Accept that you are going to struggle to do six back-to-back calls from 9am til 4pm, you aren’t superhuman, and you do have your parenting role which will also require your attention.  Explain to the children that you are needing to balance your time, however, factor in some time with them so they have something to look forward to.    

Stick to a daily routine

Although this sounds funny, I have found that sticking to the daily non-work routine of getting dressed, ensuring we stick to breakfast/lunch/dinner and also sticking to bedtime routines, as much as possible, has maintained some normality and without this it is easy to fall into the ‘what day is it trap?’.

Define your workspace

Depending on what space you have, try and define yourself a quiet place to work and explain to the children that this is the working or quiet area.  I’ve found myself referring to my office as the staff room, a room they are used to not entering!

Be flexible with your working hours

You may find it easier to flex your working day so starting early or working into the evening if the children are younger and likely to be tucked up in bed by 7pm.  Again, be honest with your company and speak to them about this idea. If you partner is also working from home some sort of rota may work for you if the children are of an age that need supervision. Are you able to organise your important calls at different times?

Remember, you aren’t on your own

You aren’t on your own in this weird time.  Many of your colleagues, student peers, and tutors are also having to change working practices.  Utilise forums/discussion groups/networking groups to retain some level of sanity.  Talking about issues, sharing frustrations often makes it all more manageable.

If nothing else works, try bribery!

Introduce some sort of reward chart if your children are still interested in stickers or for older children, barter in time, if they allow you some quiet time to make that important call, then they can have extra screen time! 

I am sure throughout the coming weeks you will find your own tips and tricks for maintain a balance that suits you and your family.  It’s a culture change for everyone, and just like changing the culture in your organisation, this isn’t going to happen overnight, there will be bumps in the road. Remember one of the main rules about changing a culture is taking everyone with you.  If everyone is still happy, I would say you are winning.

This blog originally appeared at MOL on April 20, 2020. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Jane Hawksworth is Associate Tutor at MOL, her HR career spanned 14 years across a range of industries, and she has worked for MOL since 2009 whilst raising her family, and has tutored on a number of level 7 programmes.

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Our outdated school schedules are hurting working parents

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casey quinlan

School schedules aren’t working for parents, and haven’t caught up to the reality of modern families’ lives.

The vast majority of parents 70 percent, work full-time from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the median closing time for a school is 2:30 p.m. On top of that, schools are closed 80 percent longer than the typical worker receives in paid holidays and vacation time, which works out to 13 more days off than parents have, according to an analysis from the Center for American Progress.

That presents a problem for parents who work outside the home, especially mothers, single parents, low-income parents, parents of color, and part-time workers. Many of these demographics overlap, of course. Women of color in particular tend to make less money than white men and women and thus are less likely to be able to afford after-school programs and day care. Part-time workers also have far less vacation days and sick days than full-time workers.

This means the most disadvantaged populations in the United States are bearing the brunt of our school schedules-which are filled with extra days off around the holidays, days taken off for teachers’ professional development, snow days not offered by local employers, and policies mandating parents to pick up their sick kids, no matter how minor the illness.

Why a 9-to-5 schedule isn’t working for parents

Right now, schools are designed for families where one parent works outside the home and one parent stays home to care for the children, and is available to be on call to pick up their kids from school whenever necessary.

“Unfortunately the reality of working families has evolved a lot, and we need to invest in the kind of school policies and schedules to catch us up to the way people are actually living their lives,” said Catherine Brown, the vice president of education policy at the Center for American Progress and one of the authors of the new report. (Disclosure: ThinkProgress is an editorially independent site housed at the Center for American Progress.)

“We need to invest in the kind of school policies and schedules to catch us up to the way people are actually living their lives.”

The CAP report emphasizes the change in family work weeks. Between 1979 and 2006, the typical middle class family work week increased by 11 hours.

One might suggest after-school programs as the antidote to this problem, but these programs are not universally available, especially to the parents who need them most. Only 45 percent of all public elementary schools offer parents after-school care, according to CAP’s analysis of federal education data and only 31 percent of Title I schools have after-school programs.

Brown said school policies on picking children up from school also make parents’ lives very difficult. The report explains that schools often require parents to pick children up even when their illness is minor or non-contagious. Duval County Public Schools in Florida has a policy where parents are required to pick up an ill child within 60 minutes of being notified.

‘What will typically happen is your kid has a slight fever and they’ll call you and say you need to immediately pick them up and that’s just not viable,” Brown said. “If you’re working at McDonald’s or even if you’re working at CAP, it’s really hard to instantly abandon what you’re doing and go pick up your child, and this is a really clear way that schools disregard the needs of working parents.”

Brown added that these schedules often mean students go to recess or eat lunch very early in the day because they’re sharing a tight schedule with so many kids. Ideally, children’s schedules would be organized according to the natural ebb and flow of their energy levels throughout the day.

The creative solutions that could help fix this issue

There is no reason why this inconvenient school schedule needs to remain in place, the authors of the report explain. The CAP report puts forth several ideas for reforming the way that school schedules work.

  • States could raise the minimum length of a school day to eight hours, which would push schools toward a typical work schedule.
  • Districts could use the assistance of AmeriCorps members, college students, and community members to help run programs during school closings and to monitor students when parents are at work.
  • Schools could limit days off to major holidays, look to major employers when deciding whether to close schools for inclement weather, and create school health policies that better recognize parents’ busy schedules.
  • Administrators could accommodate parents’ work schedules when deciding when to schedule parent-teacher conferences and consider alternatives to in-person meetings, such as chatting through Skype.
  • Schools could look at more efficient ways to conduct teacher professional development, such as having teacher development run throughout the school day through teacher collaboration and individualized coaching, so the school wouldn’t have to close for the day.
  • Schools could identify alternatives to a tiered busing schedule, such as a dual-route system, so that students can get to school at the same time.

How a new school schedule would affect teachers

One of the most challenging questions facing advocates for a 9-to-5 school schedule is how to ensure teachers aren’t shortchanged in the process. After all, teachers come in early to prepare for classes and often stay later to assist students and grade papers?—?they don’t want to make their days even longer.

Staggered schedules could ensure that teachers don’t work longer hours than they already do. But if they do end up adding more hours to their workday, advocates say teachers should be fairly compensated.

“What we want to be clear about is that we’re not advocating for teachers to work longer hours without getting compensated for that time,” Brown said.

She added that kids can also do independent work an work in peer-to-peer groups that allow teachers time to do planning, give kids more time to learn, and reduce parent stress.

Ulrich Boser, a senior fellow for education policy at CAP, said there is also the possibility of teachers working a 9-to-5 schedule but doing so only four days a week. Teachers who work at Goldie Maple Academy in Queens, for example, have a school day that begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 4:35 p.m. but they have Fridays off.

How to pay for a longer school day

Keeping schools open longer will cost more money. But there are federal funds available to help school districts pay for lengthening their days.

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance explaining that as long as extended school days are “meeting an identified need to improve student achievement,” a federal source called Title I, Part A fund can be used toward paying for it. Other federal funding sources include Promise Neighborhoods competition, Full-Service Community Schools Program, and Community Learning Centers program.

Congress could also include a competitive grant program in the Higher Education Act to encourage graduate schools in social work to partner with neighboring school districts to develop a 9-to-5 schedule.

This new schedule could also be considered a “school theme” in the way technology or bilingualism is considered a theme for many schools. These schools could be funded through competitive grant programs targeted at low-income schools.

Some of these policy proposals are easier to implement than others, but Brown said innovation is necessary to acknowledge the needs of working parents.

“I think requiring longer school days requires an injection of resources and creative thinking about how you set up your schools,” Brown said.

This blog originally appeared at Thinkprogress.org on October 12, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Casey Quinlan is an education reporter for ThinkProgress. Previously, she was an editor for U.S. News and World Report. She has covered investing, education crime, LGBT issues, and politics for publications such as the NY Daily News, The Crime Report, The Legislative Gazette, Autostraddle, City Limits, The Atlantic and The Toast.

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