Jun 05, 2020

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education today began the process of awarding nearly $9 million in federal funding to child care providers to offset the financial impacts of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. The funding is intended to support early learning centers that were operational during the first phase of the state's reopening.

The funding stems from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The awards will benefit nearly 700 child care providers statewide who participate in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), and in turn, serve over 46,000 children birth through age 13. 

"Child care is the backbone of our economy. For Louisiana to truly recover, child care must recover," said Nasha Patel, the Department's deputy assistant superintendent for early childhood and early literacy. "But child care providers, who typically operate on razor-thin margins, are even further financially stunted by the ongoing public crisis. The relief money aims to alleviate some of this burden by covering operational costs, like rent, staff salaries, bonuses to recruit and retain staff, and additional cleaning supplies."

The grant awards represent the second round of this particular aid. In early May, the Department awarded $10 million to providers. Additional award rounds will be available later, as the state continues forward on its Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana, the Governor's plan for safely reopening the state.

Though early learning centers were not required to close under Louisiana's stay-at-home order, which went into effect in March, more than 70 percent of providers closed their doors. Those that remained open primarily served the children of workers on the frontlines of the response effort. 

With the stay-at-home order lifted on May 15, providers that previously closed have begun to reopen. About 60 percent of providers are now offering services, compared to 30 percent in April.

The latest round of grant funding builds on steps Louisiana has taken this spring to support child care providers. The Department has:

  • Paid providers based on the enrollment of students receiving a subsidy, not attendance, to help ensure centers made closure decisions based on safety alone;
  • Issued rapidly-evolving health and safety guidance, including reopening guidance, for child care centers;
  • Connected child care workers to the important feeding programs run by school systems to ensure the people who care for children did not have to worry about putting food on the table for their own and those they educate; 
  • Enabled essential personnel to go to work with confidence their children are in good hands by opening, and then extending, the CCAP to essential workers across the state;
  • Released a suite of resources and additional funding opportunities to ensure a strong start for every child in every community; and
  • Equipped every child care provider with high-demand supplies to ensure a safe and health reopening.

While these efforts have provided much-needed support, more must be done, according to a recent report by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. The report shows early care and education providers, some of whom risk permanently closing, need support to reopen, and parents will have even more difficulty affording early care and education due to COVID-19 precautions. It emphasizes critical investments must be made in early care and education for employees to return to work and the Louisiana economy to fully reopen.

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