BATON ROUGE, La. – On Wednesday, the Louisiana Department of Education started the process of serving 4,500 children in child care programs, removing their names from the waiting list for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides financial assistance to low-income families while parents are working or attending school, according to a press release from the Department. The action comes after Congress appropriated additional one-time child care funds to Louisiana. Families eligible to be removed from the waiting list started receiving digital and mailed notices on Wednesday and will be able to access child care using CCAP funding in the week following Labor Day at the earliest, stated in the release.
In 2017, the Department, which oversees CCAP as a result of the landmark Act 3 legislation of 2012, established a waiting list due to overwhelming demand from working parents. Approximately 2,500 children will remain on the waiting list after Wednesday’s actions. That number will likely return to at least 7,000 when the one-time funds have been spent.
Earlier this year, as the result of Congress passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, the federal Office of Child Care announced additional money to the federal Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) grant would be made available to states this fiscal year, according to the Department. Louisiana is required to spend its one-time allotment of $39 million on expanding the number of available seats at child care centers, initiatives to improve the quality of care, and infant and toddler-focused programs. Approximately $28 million of the funding may directly benefit CCAP, the Department stated.
According to the Department of Education, in order to completely clear the remainder of the waiting list, it would cost nearly $16 million, about $6,300 per child, for one year.
Even if the waiting list was eliminated, the program would still be serving far fewer children than it was a decade ago, said Melanie Bronfin, Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. In 2009, CCAP served close to 40,000 Louisiana children; today, it serves just over 14,600.
"This is due to the huge cuts that have been made in the state funding for the program," Bronfin added.