Before she was furloughed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, Chantel Clark had worked for years as a visual merchandiser at a Macy’s in Georgia so she would have the flexibility in her schedule to care for her son, who has special needs.When she was called back to work in May, she took the opportunity. But when her 8-year-old son’s special needs camp and school stopped offering in-person classes, “there were no good child care options,” said Clark, 39. Without access to family leave, she had to resign to take care of her son, she said.Because she resigned, she hadn’t qualified for regular unemployment insurance. But she believed she would be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA, special unemployment compensation for people who don’t ordinarily qualify for unemployment benefits, including parents unable to work because of child care needs during the pandemic.In Georgia’s system, she needed to apply for state unemployment insurance first and be denied before she could apply for PUA, which also covers gig workers and the self-employed. She applied in August, but both her initial claim and her subsequent PUA claim have been denied. She was told she didn’t meet the criteria for benefits, and

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