Funding for child care is a welcome, but temporary fix to a long-term problem

The American Press

<p class="p1">More than 4,500 children in Louisiana became eligible for child care assistance this month due to a recently enacted, one-time congressional appropriation. </p><p class="p3">The Child Care Assistance Program was formed to provide low-income families access to high-quality child care when parents are working or attending school. </p><p class="p3">Last year so many families applied for the assistance program that the Louisiana Department of Education had to put 7,000 of those applications on a waiting list. </p><p class="p3">With the influx of one-time money, that means 14 more children will now be served in Allen Parish, less than 10 in Beauregard, 233 in Calcasieu, 17 in Jeff Davis and 13 in Vernon. No children from Cameron Parish were on the waiting list.</p><p class="p3">The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children has said this new federal funding is the first increase to the state’s CCAP program in nine years. Funding cuts have decreased CCAP enrollment from about 40,000 children in 2007 to 17,000 in 2017. The program is serving more than 14,600 this year.</p><p class="p3">The program serves children from birth to age 5, therefore the newly eligible children will remain in the program until they age out or no longer qualify for services, said Sydni Dunn, LDOE spokeswoman.</p><p class="p3">Families will be able to access child care in early September.</p><p class="p3">Dunn said about 2,500 children will remain on the list, which is projected to return to at least 7,000 children next year if no further action is taken by lawmakers.</p><p class="p3">It costs about $6,300 per child each year to provide a family with assistance, she said. To completely clear the waiting list, it would cost the state nearly $16 million.</p><p class="p3">According to data from the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education Commission, Louisiana serves 56,588 at-risk children through a variety of programs.</p><p class="p3">As of October 2017 there are nearly 200,000 at-risk children in the state, which means about 70 percent of the population isn’t being served, Dunn said.</p><p class="p3">“We are grateful for the opportunity to provide affordable child care to thousands more of the hard-working families who have patiently waited for this opportunity,” state Superintendent John White said in a news release.</p><p class="p3">But he also stressed the funding is only “a small portion” of what is needed to help Louisiana’s children.</p><p class="p3">We have a child care crisis in Louisiana. Raising the next generation of citizens to run our country requires love, time and attention — obligations most parents fulfill. But it also requires money, more than most hard-working parents can come by. A one-time influx of money, while welcomed, is really just a bandage on a much larger problem.</p><hr /><p class="p1">This editorial was written by a member of the <em>American Press</em> Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include <strong>Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz</strong>, <strong>Mike Jones</strong>, and <strong>Jim Beam</strong>. </p>””Temporary FixAmerican Press composite

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