Miami-Dade, Broward schools pledge to help federal workers amid shutdown

Educators concerned parents' financial hardships could affect learning

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Public Schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have pledged to find ways to help the families of federal workers who are either furloughed or working without pay since late December because of the government shutdown.

"Hidden and lost amid the political rhetoric, wrangling, and partisanship, is the real, painful impact that the government shutdown has already had and will continue to have on employees, families, and inevitably, children," said Miami-Dade County board member Steve Gallon III.

The school boards are concerned that the financial pressure and added stress on federal workers could also affect their children and their performance at school.

President Donald Trump and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives are at an impasse over how to fund the government. Trump wants $5.7 billion in funding for a wall along the southern border while Democrats argue that the government should be reopened before any negotiations over immigration policy can begin.

The stalemate shows little signs of ending anytime soon and federal workers will miss a second paycheck on Friday.

Over the past few weeks, Charities and volunteers have been providing food and other assistance to the workers such as Transportation Security Administration agents at Miami International Airport, but many workers fear they will no be able to pay rent or medical bills.

"We have people who need help with their light bills with their mortgages, who need help with food," said Pastor Carl Johnson of the 93rd Community Baptist Church, one many organizations providing aid. "We're not just trying to take care of those in our church, but we want to reach out to those who are not a part of our church to show that we are concerned about them." 

In addition to the unpaid federal workers, the Miami-Dade school board was also concerned about other potential effects of the shutdown, such as families not receiving tax refunds or suspension of assistance programs, such food stamps and public housing.

The Broward and Miami-Dade school board said families in need can apply for free and reduced lunches. The Miami-Dade board also instructed Superintendent Alberto Carvalho to explore more ways to help.

The Miami-Dade board said it wants to provide “additional support and assistance, where feasible and appropriate.”