Home Minnesota Educator ESPs find support in new unemployment insurance access

ESPs find support in new unemployment insurance access

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This year, Minnesota became the first state in the country to make school hourly workers eligible for unemployment insurance in the summer months.

The Minnesota Legislature passed the bill last spring and it became a reality for paraprofessionals, clerical, nutrition services, transportation, custodial and other non-instructional employees across the state last summer.

Education Minnesota supported many education support professionals through the process of applying for UI and heard from many who received it about the positive impact it had on their lives.

The following are testimonials from ESP members impacted by the new access to UI:

“The ability to collect unemployment benefits this year was particularly timely for myself and my family. I normally work our summer credit recovery program, but this year there was not a need for an ESP, so I did not have my normal summer employment. My son-in-law has been dealing with an autoimmune disease for the past two years and has not been able to work. They have two little boys, so I was able to help them out watching kids and helping with household chores to make life a little easier for my daughter. Without the unemployment insurance, I would not have been able to be as available for them. Our car insurance always comes due in July, which makes things a little tight without my regular income. I normally only have two to four weeks of summer program, but it helps to cover the increased bills and insurance during the summer, even if our budget is a little tighter. This year I could help out without worrying about how we were going to pay bills without having the summer program.”

— Michelle Lancaster, Education Minnesota-Buffalo Educational Support Professionals

“This summer was the first summer I had the opportunity to collect unemployment. This summer was also the first summer I felt like I got the mental break I feel I needed. Instead of working three jobs this summer, I was able to work just one. The unemployment was such a huge help. It was amazing. This is also the first time ever I felt recharged after summer and not completely exhausted. I hope they continue this opportunity for paras for years to come because it is such a huge need. Also new this year, there wasn’t a turnover of staff. Everyone returned. In 12 years, that has never happened. I know because I’m a mentor every year. Talking with other paras of all kinds this summer, there was one message: we are all so very thankful for this extra additional opportunity. This will also open other opportunities for the district as well. We should now be able to go to nine months of pay instead of 12, which in the past we have been told will save on payroll labor and lots of confusion. Unemployment is such a huge asset to the paraprofessionals. I sure hope this continues.”
— Courtney Hammes, Education Minnesota Zumbrota-Mazeppa ESP

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