NEW ORLEANS — Today, the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) released findings from the fifth survey of child care providers, titled “On The Path to Recovery: The Evolving Impacts of COVID-19 on Louisiana Child Care Providers”.
By analyzing responses from child care providers across the state, LPIC, in partnership with Agenda for Children, the Child Care Association of Louisiana, Childcare Connections for Northeast Louisiana, Louisiana Association of United Ways, Louisiana Department of Education, Northwestern State University, On Track by 5 Alliance, Pointe Coupee Early Childhood Coalition, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and Volunteers of America, found that while the child care sector is recovering, continued state and federal investments are needed to stabilize the child care sector.
“The findings demonstrate how crucial state and federal funding is to help Louisiana’s child care centers recover from the impacts of the pandemic in order to serve young children and families,” says Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “However, the findings also show how important it is that we maintain the momentum by continuing to invest in child care until the crisis comes to an end. Centers are able to provide child care seats at nearly pre-pandemic levels, but financial losses have ballooned by over eleven times, and center closures due to COVID-19 are widespread.”
Results found that:
· COVID-19 continues to impact providers’ ability to remain open. On average in 2021, providers had to close classrooms at least three times and the entire center nearly two times. Only one-third of providers were not required to close during 2021.
· The financial strain on providers is easing, but it remains present. Fewer providers reported experiencing financial losses due to COVID-19, more indicated confidence in their ability to stay open, and fewer reported having families behind on tuition payments compared to results from January 2020.
· However, average financial losses have increased drastically, from $26,330 in April 2020 to $304,144 in Fall 2021.
· Enrollment rates have largely rebounded, with enrollment rates in Fall 2021 at only 2% lower than in January 2020.
“Stabilizing the child care sector is a necessary step to stabilizing Louisiana’s economy,” said Karen Powell, deputy assistant superintendent for early childhood strategy at the Louisiana Department of Education. “Over a year and a half into the pandemic, many parents remain unable to work due to being unable to find high-quality child care for their children. This is a major factor contributing to the unemployment and labor shortage experienced across the country.”
In 2021 the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children’s research and advocacy work helped direct over $126 million of local and federal funding to child care providers. Sarah Berthelot, president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of United Ways shared that, “the results are promising, but they show that our work is not yet done. State investments and federal relief have made great progress towards getting child care in Louisiana back on track, but the child care sector requires a sustained investment until the COVID-19 crisis and constant forced closures come to an end.”
The survey was conducted shortly after Hurricane Ida struck Louisiana as well as amidst the fourth resurgence of COVID-19 due to the Delta and Omicron variants.
“The past few years have been challenging, but the grants and investments I received, largely thanks to LPIC and its partners, have allowed me to continue supporting families in my care,” said Tessa Holloway, founder and owner of Kidz Karousel Child Care Center.
The full report from “On The Path To Recovery: The Evolving Impacts Of Covid-19 On Louisiana Child Care Providers” can be found here.The survey was conducted from September 29 through October 19, 2021, in partnership with Agenda for Children, Child Care Association of Louisiana, Childcare Connections for Northeast Louisiana, Louisiana Association of United Ways, Northwestern State University, On Track by 5 Alliance, Pointe Coupee Early Childhood Coalition, United Way of Southeast Louisiana and Volunteers of America. For more information on LPIC, please visit, PolicyInstituteLA.org.