Child Care Providers Forced to Serve Fewer Children are Struggling Across Louisiana
As the pandemic grinds on, our lives continue to adapt to the new normal. And, as we open back up, working parents need to put their children back into childcare. However, the reality is that as they do, they are facing an early care and education sector that may have closed permanently or is experiencing much longer waiting lists.
Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy, a family-owned and operated Tier III preschool and childcare center, has been serving the Algiers/New Orleans community since 1986. It is currently experiencing a number of challenges.
“Usually we serve around 100 children, but due to the pandemic and new regulations that number is down to 60,” says Sonjia Joseph-Brown, the business’ co-owner and executive director. “We are spending a lot more money on payroll with less children, plus we have to give employees incentive pay to make it attractive for them to return to work. We are also cleaning and sanitizing all high-touch surfaces every hour.”
The preschool is far from alone in their struggles. Recently, The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, a non-partisan, nonprofit organization focused on school readiness for young children, presented findings from its third round of surveys, which were distributed to early childhood education centers. These surveys focused on the ongoing adverse impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on child care providers.
The following are some of the stand out findings from the third survey, conducted June 15-22, 2020.
Financial Losses for Providers Continued to Grow Substantially During the Pandemic: 77 percent of providers who responded to the survey reported experiencing financial losses due to COVID-19, with losses averaging $110,000 per center as of June 22, translating to an estimated $137.5 million in collective losses statewide.
The Majority of Open Providers Saw Reduced Enrollment Rates: 81% of providers open during the survey window were serving fewer children in June than they did in January before the pandemic. On average, enrollment at open providers was 30 percent less in June than January.
Almost Half of Providers Had a Waiting List: 45 percent of providers, including those that were closed during the survey window, had a waiting list of families hoping to enroll their children.
More Providers Experienced Challenges with Purchasing Needed Cleaning, PPE Supplies: Almost two-thirds of providers reported difficulty in obtaining needed supplies, including cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment, and 67 percent of providers experienced increased costs for cleaning supplies.
The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children believes the results indicate that despite the state’s gradual reopening, childcare providers are still experiencing dramatic challenges as the state continues to battle COVID-19.
“There is a serious concern about the financial viability of the early care and education sector,” says Libbie Sonnier, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children’s executive director. “Facilitating access to quality, reliable early care and education is critical for parents working across every industry so that they can return to work and provide for their families.”
The institute believes without increased investment in the early care and education sector now, it will be a challenge keeping the Louisiana economy moving forward.
“My hope is that a cure or a vaccine is found so things can go back to the old normal,” says Joseph-Brown. “I would love for all my babies to return safely.”
The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children’s Mission:
Advancing policies to ensure that Louisiana’s young children are ready for success in school and in life.
We envision a Louisiana in which all young children, birth through age four, are safe, healthy, and reach their full potential.
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Phone: (504) 442-0298