Finally, someone in power noticed that public schools close 29 days a year and end 2 hours before the workday—a schedule that poses problems for working parents. In an attempt to address the issue, Senator Kamila Harris introduced a Senate bill yesterday called the Family Friendly Schools Act.
The bill is actually an amendment to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and will now be considered by a Senate committee, potentially followed by votes in the Senate and House. Here’s the gist.
The program: Elementary schools will receive grants of up to $5 million to partner with non-profit or community based childcare organizations to extend their hours from 8am to 6pm on all weekdays throughout the school year.
Why it probably won’t help you: It’s a pilot program, geared towards 500 elementary schools for five years. Unless you have kids currently in Pre-K through 4th grade who one of the chosen schools, you’re out of luck.
It’s vague by design. Schools get one year to feel out their community needs, and can choose their own programming. Their partnerships must be with non-profit or community-based organizations that provide “high-quality, culturally relevant, linguistically accessible, developmentally appropriate academic, athletic, or enrichment opportunities for students.”
What the unions say: Thumbs up! Mostly because public school teachers will not be staffing the programming (unless they want to, paid). “This legislation addresses a chronic and long-neglected problem,” says Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Roughly one million mothers of elementary school children cut their hours at work because of a lack of affordable child care.”
The risk: Success is all in the details—including the quality of the programming schools do choose. Also, it’s a limited 5-year pilot. Without further Congressional support, the funding can disappear.
Fun fact: Kamala Harris knows how to write a bill! It’s well-written and clear.
The verdict: Angels might be singing for future working parents. In the meantime, hang in there, moms and dads—and call your Congresspeople.
The post Everything to know about Kamala Harris’s new bill for working parents appeared first on Fast Company.