Policy Institute Quantifies Impact of COVID-19 on Child Care
NEW ORLEANS — The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children is releasing results from the “Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll,” which surveyed Louisiana parents with children under five to better understand how these families have been impacted amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in regard to their child care needs. LPIC conducted the survey of parents and guardians in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education, United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s Women United and New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Agenda for Children and Urban League of Louisiana.
The results provide insights into the needs and challenges of families with young children in southeast Louisiana as the COVID-19 pandemic endures, reinforcing the following:
- Families with young children continue to require child care to support parent employment or education, and parents must adjust their schedules to fill child care gaps.
- The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a financial toll on families and increasing stress for parents.
- Families are struggling to afford child care and basic necessities.
“Every working individual across Louisiana has felt the emotional, physical, and financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – most of all parents,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “We conducted the Louisiana Child Care Parent Poll to gain a clear understanding of the struggles our families are facing and the next best steps to remedy them. What the results make abundantly clear is that there must be swift and deliberate action to increase the availability of affordable, high-quality child care both locally and throughout the state, including substantially increasing funding for child care assistance.”
While most parents reported concerns about the spread of COVID-19 through child care, over three-quarters of families continued to rely on some type of formal child care for similar amounts of time as before the pandemic – 39 hours per week on average now compared to 41 hours per week before the pandemic. And yet, half of parents were concerned about being unable to afford child care due to the high cost, and 40% were concerned about being unable to afford child care due to a job change or loss.
“Considering the economic hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s sobering to see that families in southeast Louisiana are paying an average of $467 per child per month for child care. For a family with two children already struggling to afford basic necessities, an annual cost of $11,208 can put licensed care out of reach completely,” said Jennifer Roberts, president of Agenda for Children. “Our state and local officials can build a better future for our children and our economy by making child care more affordable for Louisiana’s families.”
In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, families faced shifting education and care options for their children as K-12 schools largely remained closed until the fall, and many child care providers closed or had reduced enrollment capacity due to public health requirements. Throughout the pandemic, LPIC has compiled multiple reports with findings on the adverse impacts COVID-19 has had on child care providers, the financial challenges of child care facing Louisiana’s working families, and the necessity to get families back to work in order to restart the state’s economy.
“With 45 percent of parents reporting their household’s monthly income decreased during the pandemic, the data in this report reiterates the urgent need to support families struggling to afford child care for their young children and rebounding businesses who need access to a reliable workforce,” said Charmaine Caccioppi, United Way’s executive vice president and COO. “We continue to invest in strategies to provide immediate relief for families and encourage local municipalities to consider long-term public funding similar to the library and early childhood education millage Orleans Parish voters will consider in December.”
Southeast Louisiana’s economic recovery relies on working families, and, as these survey results show, working families rely on child care. State and local communities must increase funding for child care assistance to support families struggling to afford child care for their young children, as well as rebounding businesses who need access to a reliable workforce. One example of how localities can raise funds is the proposed Library and Early Childhood Education Millage in Orleans Parish, where New Orleans voters are being asked to pass a citywide millage that would increase funding for early care and education by redistributing, not raising, taxes. If passed in December, this millage will expand access to affordable, high-quality early care and education programs for low-income families for the next 20 years.
The complete findings from “Struggling to Recover: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Southeast Louisiana Families with Young Children” can be found here.
For more information on LPIC, visit PolicyInstituteLA.org.