Policy Institute poll highlights struggles of child care for Louisiana working families

NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) has released results from “Now More Than Ever: A Snapshot of How Louisiana Working Families Rely on Child Care,” which surveyed Louisiana parents and guardians with young children under five to better understand their child care arrangements, including their needs and experiences related to child care. LPIC conducted the survey in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education.

The results provide insights into the needs and challenges of families with young children across Louisiana as the state continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing the following:

●      Families with young children continue to rely on child care and make decisions about child care based on factors that support parent/guardian employment and education.

●      Families still experience child care challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and struggle to easily find child care.

●      Despite recent policy changes, families continue to struggle to afford child care and basic necessities.

“As our state continues to recover from devastating storms and the pandemic, now more than ever, it is essential to support Louisiana’s working parents and guardians,” said Libbie Sonnier, Ph. D., executive director of LPIC. “The results of this year’s Parent Poll made it clear that we must work to support the child care sector with continued, robust funding in order for our state’s economy to fully recover.”

According to the findings, 85% of families rely on some type of formal child care outside the home — including child care centers, preschools in a school, Head Start or Early Head Start, family or home-based child care providers, and employer-sponsored child care at a workplace — which is a 7 percentage point increase compared to 2020. In addition, most responding parents were working or in school, full time, and outside of the home. This further emphasizes the critical need for increased affordability and accessibility to child care for those with young children working and/or furthering their education.

The cost of child care remains high as parents reported paying around $358 per child a month for child care, which cost the average Louisiana family with two children, almost $9,000 a year. For families paying for child care and not receiving any type of subsidized care, the average monthly cost of child care was $655 per child per month, or $15,715 per year for a family with two children, which is more than one-year college tuition.

“It is alarming to see the continued high cost of child care facing parents relying on child care in order to go to work or further their education,” said Jen Roberts, CEO of Agenda for Children. “With those costs, parents are having to make incredibly tough decisions in order to afford both child care and basic necessities such as rent, utilities, and putting food on the table. It is clear more needs to be done locally and at the state level to alleviate the financial burden that child care can put on Louisiana’s hard-working parents.”

As Louisiana continues to recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families continue to experience child care challenges and struggle to easily find child care. Almost 25% of parents reported it was difficult to find their current child care arrangements  — with higher rates for families in the Capitol Region and southwest Louisiana. For those able to attain child care, over 60% of the families noted they were concerned about the spread of COVID-19 through child care.

“The findings from this survey reiterate the urgent need to support families struggling to attain child care for their young children and businesses who need access to a reliable workforce,” said Toya Barnes-Teamer, Ph.D., Chairwoman of Women United of Southeast Louisiana.“The numbers show the impacts to businesses, especially as 75 percent of parents reported taking off at least one day of work in the last three months because of a child care closure. We must work to address these issues in order for Louisiana to fully recover economically.”

The complete findings from “Now More Than Ever: A Snapshot of How Louisiana Working Families Rely on Child Care” can be found here. The survey was conducted from October 10 through November 3, 2021. Questions ranged from asking about current child care arrangements, personal child care expenses, ability to afford child care, family work schedules, and more. For more information on LPIC, please visit, PolicyInstituteLA.org.

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