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Fund provided assistance to school, child care workers

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The School and Child Care Worker Relief Fund recently distributed financial assistance to 90 employees from partner groups, including education support professionals who are Education Minnesota members.

The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted Black and brown workers and families. Additionally, Black and brown workers make up an inordinate percentage of our schools’ hourly school employees which includes child care workers, paraprofessionals, educators and school support staff.

That’s why the Education Minnesota Foundation for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, Education Minnesota, SEIU Local 284 and ISAIAH’s Kids Count On Us Coalition created a fund to help school workers, child care workers and educators who have been laid off by their districts, under the threat of being laid off or have had to close their child care centers due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

The effort raised more than $60,000 over the summer.

“These educators and caregivers don’t get the respect or wages they deserve during good times, and they are the first to lose pay or face layoffs during a crisis,” said Education Minnesota President Denise Specht when the fund was launched. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and the school closures that have come along with it have threatened the economic security of tens of thousands of school employees and child care workers.”

Workers affiliated with Education Minnesota, SEIU Local 284 and ISAIAH’s Kids Count on Us Coalition were able to apply for financial assistance at the end of the summer.

ESPs from Education Minnesota applied if they had been financially impacted by COVID-19, such as loss of hours, being laid off or furloughed.

More than 180 people applied during the short application window.

A team of child care center directors, ESPs and teachers—representatives from the three partner organizations—reviewed all the applications. They based selection off of having an affiliation to one of the organizations, as well as equitable representation across all partners.

They also looked to support members from marginalized communities, whom COVID-19 has hit hardest. The team also made sure the recipients were hourly workers.

The team spent two weeks reviewing the applications, with many of the team taking time out of their evenings after being in school.

The partnership of these organizations has come from a year-long work group of educators looking at the early childhood education system in Minnesota.

The EPIC 0-5 Care and Education paper, produced by Education Minnesota and ISAIAH, will be released in January, with research and recommendations.

Relief fund organizers continue to seek out opportunities to raise money and find ways to support school and child care workers as the pandemic continues to affect their work. More funds may be available in the future.

More information will be posted on edmnfoundation.org and Education Minnesota’s social media channels if it becomes available.

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