Each New Year brings with it new beginnings, new opportunities, and for all of us in the early childhood community, renewed optimism for achieving something meaningful for young children. And, in Louisiana, there’s already cause for celebration.
After two years of hard work by advocates, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) announced major improvements in the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), the publicly-funded program to help low-income families pay for child care while working or attending school or training. These improvements reduce child care costs for families while increasing and stabilizing revenues for child care providers.
“The increase in funding and simplification of the application process greatly benefits families with parents that work or are in school that need help to afford quality child care,” said Louisiana State Superintendent John White.
The plan, part of the statewide effort to unify the system of early childhood education, increases the subsidy available to parents to pay child care centers by up to 250 percent. Higher subsidies also increase revenues for child care providers, allowing centers to increase teacher pay and improve teacher training. The plan simplifies the application process and ends the longstanding practice of stopping child care assistance when a parent or guardian loses a job. Payments will continue through the entire year of eligibility, with the possibility to include additional months as well to enable children to complete the full school year.
The Allocated Child Care Assistance Seats Pilot will contract for a set number of CCAP seats in selected child care centers each year, in addition to the current CCAP vouchers that allow parents to chose among eligible providers. These Allocated Seats should help centers plan for their expected enrollment, stabilize a portion of their funding, and position them to serve the most at-risk children in a quality setting. The pilot will include approximately 10% of the total number of CCAP seats statewide.
The changes are good news for low income families and child care providers in Louisiana, since the improvements reduce out-of-pocket costs for families, stabilize revenues for providers, and recognize and support provider efforts to improve quality.
The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children is proud to have been a part of the statewide efforts to enact these changes. We commend and thank Louisiana State Superintendent John White, Assistant Superintendent for Early Childhood Jenna Conway, and Deputy Director for Early Childhood Derek Little, for their leadership and resolution in bringing about these critical reforms.
Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
(January 22, 2016)