Single mom 'crushed' after learning unemployment benefits denied

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A single mom of three says she is crushed that she was denied unemployment benefits. 

Alysa Montijo says she had to take time off work when schools closed. 

"I was told that the school was gonna close and the next day I took them to day care and they told me that day care was closing as well," she said. 

Her kids were going to two different day cares. She said the one her youngest was going to wasn't closing, but they weren't taking school age kids. 

"I told my boss what was going on and he's like, 'Just do what you have to do, we'll keep you here. As soon as you can find day care you can come back.'" 

She applied for unemployment insurance mid-March. Yesterday, she got a response. 

"They told me that I didn't qualify for unemployment because the kids' school and day care closed, that that's not grounds for unemployment," she said. 

The document showing the findings from the Unemployment Insurance Division stated in part that, "the claimant is not available for full-time work due to lack of child care during COVID-19. She had no alternatives; thus, the department finds she is withdrawn from the labor market."

It goes on to say, "Benefits are denied until the claimant is able and available for suitable work."

A spokesperson for the Department of Workforce Development said, "The determination sounds correct under state law - the individual should apply for the pandemic unemployment assistance program. One of the reasons a person may be eligible for PUA is if they are no longer working because 'A child... in the household for which the individual has primary care-giving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of COVID-19 and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work.'"

Montijo said she was also told to apply for PUA. 

"I asked her yesterday, 'Well is it gonna take another two months to get a decision?' and she said 'Probably,'" she said, "If I even get accepted for that, it's gonna be four months before I see any kind of compensation for anything."

She said a lot of the day cares she's been in contact with are already at capacity or they won't let siblings in the classroom. 

"I've cried so much and I'm gonna cry now," she said, "They don't understand because they're so little but I can't sleep at night 'cause I don't know how I'm gonna pay rent next month, how I'm going to get them the little stuff that they need, shoes or shorts."

For more information on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, click here. 

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