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Minimum wage, maximum pain
State wage laws force Boys & Girls to raise fees, GECAC to start charging
After School Advantage Program Site Coordinator Victor Ortega, right, helps Jazmine Lopez with school work at Give Every Child a Chances site at Lathrop School. - photo by HIME ROMERO/ The Bulletin

California’s minimum wage laws are already having severe impacts on Manteca’s two leading non-profits — Give Every Child a Chance and the Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club.
GECAC is charging for the first-time ever for its After School Advantage Program serving 1,377 youth imposing $20 a month or a $1 a day charge. The Boys & Girls Club with 1,800 members has increased fees from $24 to $60 annually making the cost of belonging to the club and accessing all of its programs $5 a month. Both offer scholarships to kids whose families meet the federal free and reduced lunch household income rules.
The increases, however, aren’t in response to the California Legislature’s decision to increase minimum wage from $10 an hour to $15 by 2022.
The new fees were imposed after the two non-profits were unable to continue to absorb the impact of the two most recent state mandated jumps in minimum wage that took it from $8 to $9 on July 1, 2014 and then $9 to $10 on Jan. 1, 2016.
With nearly 200 people assisting students at the after school programs, the minimum wage hikes have cost GECAC some $300,000 to implement. That is an ongoing annual cost that eats away at a $2.5 million annual budget relying on federal funds, grants, and fundraising to serve 5,000 youth through various programs at 49 different sites. Compensation and such accounts for more than 80 percent of GEAC’s budget. Added costs also include recently mandated sick leave and increased healthcare costs.

Impact of new
minimum pay
ultimately will
increase budget
by 40 percent
Based on $1 an hour pay increases given after the $10 wage went into effect four months ago, the push to $15 an hour would increase wage costs for the tutoring and mentoring program by $1 million annually at full implementation or the equivalent of 40 percent of the  current GECAC budget.
At the same time private sector grant sources — largely businesses that are also are being hit with the new minimum wage laws — are warning they may have less money to distribute to small profits due to rising payroll costs.
The $20 a month fee only applies to the After School Advantage Program and not any other GECAC endeavors such as one-on-one tutoring.
Federal grants that have been paying for the ASAP program provided $5 per student for a year in 2000. That jumped to $7.50 per student tin 2006. It hasn’t increased since. The federal government established funding for non-profits to offer such programs as a low cost alternative to public schools as well as a way to engage communities into the education of children.
“Our expenses have gone up in the last 10 years but not our revenue,” noted GECAC Chief Executive Officer Carol Davis.
Minimum wage from 2000 to 2006 went up a $1 an hour with no increase from the federal government. Since 2006 it has gone up $3.25 per hour with no additional federal money.
Both non-profits have frozen administrative staff wages over the past few years to deal with the impact of rising labor costs associated with taking the minimum wage to $10 an hours as well as higher health care costs, newly mandated sick leave, and workmen’s compensation.

Pressure on to pay
more than minimum wage
to keep positions filled
GECAC and the Boys & Girls Club both have found they have to pay above minimum wage in order to keep qualified workers. Often, though, they will lose them when full-time positions come up or other part-time jobs that pays significantly more per hour.
Davis noted almost all of the site positions start at minimum wage and the incremental increases are given for longevity and effectiveness. Most of the GECAC site employees make between $11 and $12 an hour. Only one makes more than $15 an hour.
“Minimum wage jobs were never meant to be head of household jobs,” Davis said. “They are entry level jobs.”
Both non-profits have seen their workers over the years snapped up by the school district, city and private employers to make as much as $2 to $4 more than an hour than  what they were being paid. Many employers considered those who have worked with GECAC and the Boys & Girls Club to be solid candidates for their vacancies and consider the fact they worked for one of the two agencies a plus. That underscores Davis’ arguments that minimum wage jobs at GECAC and many bother places open the door for better opportunities.
Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Jeannie Miller notes the fees start when youth renew membership or join for the first time.
She has already gotten negative reaction from some parents that have almost always put the raise in perspective when she explains the new fee translates into “just $5 a month.”
And while the Boys & Girls Club and GECAC do not consider themselves a day care service, both Miller and Davis noted the new fees are significantly lower than day care.
The Boys & Girls Club has raised fees only twice in the past 25 years with the last coming a decade ago when the fee went from $12 a year to $24 a year.
The monthly $20 GECAC fee goes into effect June 1.
Those that want to qualify for no fees or reduced fees need to provide GECAC with tax return statements.  The reduced and free prices reflect the same scale used by Manteca Unified for free and reduced meals.
As an example, if there are three people in the household and income is under $20,160 a year no fee is charged, if it is under $26,813 a $5 a month fee is charged, if it is under $30,240 a $10 a month fee is charged, and if it is under $40,320 a $15 a month fee is charged.
There is a $20 discount if the fee for the school year from August through June is paid at one time ($180). There is also a $50 cap per family per month. None of the ASAP fees are pro-rated for partial months or if youth start after the first of the month.
ASAP programs go from the end of school to 6:30 p.m. During the summer they are set up more like a day camp. In both cases there are programs aimed at academics, enrichment, and physical education.
The Boys & Girls hours are 3:30 to 8 p.m. on school days while it is closed on weekends. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The club is open to youth 6 to 18 and has a wide array of programs from sports leagues, academics, games room, organized activities, and a teen room to name a few.
Both non-profits take pride in providing a “safe haven” for youth.