Can’t your 8 year old watch the kids?

Brittney Gitzlaff, who had been waiting since March for DWD to get its act together, says she hasn’t noticed any changes.

“It’s crazy,” the Menomonee Falls mother of three said. “We just don’t know what to do at this point.” 

Gitzlaff, 33, says she filed her first Unemployment Insurance claim after the Evers administration ordered Wisconsin’s schools closed in advance of the COVID-19 pandemic. Gitzlaff, like a lot of parents, stayed home to take care of her young children, two of whom were forced to attend school virtually because of the governor’s stay-at-home order. 

Employed at a car dealership, she wasn’t able to work remotely at the time. She was entitled to unemployment, DWD officials assured her. 

Then they rejected her. Gitzlaff, like many other claimants, said she was not able to work given her circumstances. That was the wrong answer. She was told to apply for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). She did. She spent months online and on the phone waiting for an answer. She got nowhere. Finally, Gitzlaff was denied PUA, but told that she could apply for “regular” state Unemployment Insurance again. 

“The last person I talked to said I will definitely be approved,” Gitzlaff said. “Here we are a month later and no one has contacted me.” 

At one point early on in the process, she said a DWD adjudicator called and asked her the ages of her children.

“He said, ‘Can’t your 8-year-old watch your 5-year-old and your baby (while you work)?” Gitzlaff recalled. 

Gitzlaff estimates the state owes her $16,000 in UI payments. 

“It’s a struggle. It’s not easy, obviously, with my kids still being home. We’ve gone through all of our savings,” she said. 

“I’m just so disappointed in how they’re treating citizens,” Gitzlaff said. “It’s not welfare, it’s our money that is due to us. I hate the way I have been treated through the system.”

Failing Our Families