The coronavirus pandemic continues to cause problems for the state's child care operators. More parents are working from home and caring for their own children. Other parents are hesitant to send their children to child care because the true effect of the virus on young children is unknown.

The Advocate reported that losses for day care operators have more than tripled since May and now total $100 million. Earlier this year, the state Department of Education (DOE) said only 31 percent of the centers remained open, and those closures affected about 83,000 children.

Officials said those figures have now reversed, and 70 percent are open and 30 percent closed. However, Libby Sonnier, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, said there are cases of centers with a capacity of 200 children having only 50 in attendance.

The newspaper said some centers reopened in hopes that the state would move to Phase 3 of the federal reopening plan, but the state remains in Phase 2, which means stricter rules. Gov. John Bel Edwards has said the state showed some signs of improvement, but the state will remain in modified Phase 2 beyond Aug. 7, the current expiration date.

Sonnier said, "The financial viability is hard. There is some thought that the centers that reopened may have to close again because they just can't afford it. We will be releasing results for our most recent survey in August, but the preliminary results are troubling."

Sparked by the results of that survey, Sonnier said the DOE sent out $11 million in grants, which is federal aid approved by Congress. Those funds are helping operators with rent, utilities, employee salaries and cleaning costs.

A different survey that included 94 operators shows that 54 percent of them said they would close permanently without more public aid, 87 percent are serving fewer children than before the pandemic and enrollment is down by an average of 55 percent.

Child care operators are making a point to note how important their centers are for parents who need to work. They are also getting support from top officials of the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Greater New Orleans Inc. and other groups.

Another problem is the fact employees of those centers are paid an average of $8.95 per hour. Louisiana's legislators and its members of Congress need to give serious consideration to additional funding for child care centers that provide the state's youngest citizens with the quality care they deserve.

More from this section

  • Updated

If the Lake Charles area is undercounted in the 2020 census by just 5 percent, that could mean a loss of $15 million in federal funding to area agencies over the next decade. Unfortunately, the national response rate so far is only 64 percent, and Louisiana is 6 points behind that at 58 percent.

  • Updated

Patrick Hall, 40, of Central in East Baton Rouge Parish came home from work on June 29 with what he believed was a sinus infection. Hall, married with two children, died on Aug. 5 of COVID-19, the deadly coronavirus pandemic disease.

  • Updated

Next to New Orleans, Lake Charles has had the second most job losses in the state by percentage of its overall workforce. Economist Loren Scott said the New Orleans numbers aren't surprising since tourism and hospitality are so important to the city and both have been severely curtailed by t…

  • Updated

Coronavirus cases peaked last month in Louisiana, and Jeff Asher says it wasn't just because of the statewide mask mandate. Asher, a data analyst and consultant, said there's a good argument that people wearing masks and other individual behavioral changes may have been the reason.

While most of the world is trying to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East is warning that elements of the Islamic State group are working to rebuild in western Syria. That is the region west of the Euphrates River where the Syrian regime is in control.

  • Updated

One of Louisiana's most important industries — oil and gas — has been struggling with the low prices in the current glutted market for some time and is looking for help from the federal government.