SEIU Local 99 member Agnes Braga shared why working mothers need greater access to affordable child care and paid leave with members of the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday during a virtual hearing. The hearing, titled “In Their Own Words: Paid Leave, Child Care, and an Economy that Failed Women,” examined how these issues impact working mothers around the country as we move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Braga, a speech language pathology assistant (SLPA), worries about what will happen to her 16-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter when the Los Angeles Unified School District returns to in-person instruction. She is also in the process of moving.
“I am anxious about the time between my daughter’s departure from school and my arrival home. Girls her age in my city can get hurt or even abducted. Will she be safe walking alone? Will I be able to find an affordable care program for her?,” Braga testified.
Braga also told the committee she’s not the only mother working at the LAUSD concerned about child care, which is why she’s proud of the work Local 99 members did to secure a $500 a month stipend for LAUSD teachers and classified employees with young children as they return to school. School employees, including custodians and bus drivers, will get a subsidy for each eligible child aged five and under through the end of the semester and if they work over the summer.
“It was important for us to negotiate this benefit to provide extra support for parents with young children who have been under so much stress over this past year,” said Braga. ‘Child care should be more affordable and available for all working parents. It is critical that we make child care jobs important and substantive -- that means strong unions, higher pay with healthcare, sick leave and other benefits. This workforce should be respected, protected and paid good wages.”