BATON ROUGE, La. -- The Louisiana Department of Education today announced it would award nearly $11 million in federal funding to child care providers in a third round of grants to offset the financial impacts of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The funding is intended to support early learning sites that safely remained open or reopened during this unprecedented time. This round of grants will include an additional amount for providers serving children in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).
The funding stems from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. The awards will benefit nearly 700 child care providers statewide who participate in CCAP, and in turn, serve over 46,000 children birth through age 13.
"For many in Louisiana, quality child care is the key factor in returning to work and providing for their family," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. "These funds help support those educators who care for our youngest children. Our early childhood centers have been serving our essential workers, who in turn are on the frontlines of our health crisis. It's only right that we are there for them."
The grant awards represent the third round of this particular aid. These grants are available as the state continues forward on its Roadmap to a Resilient Louisiana, the Governor's plan for safely reopening the state.
Though early learning centers were not required to close under Louisiana's stay-at-home order, which went into effect in March, more than 70 percent of providers closed their doors. Those that remained open primarily served the children of workers on the frontlines of the response effort. Seventy percent of providers are now offering services, compared to 30 percent in April.
The latest round of grant funding builds on steps Louisiana has taken to support child care providers. The Department has:
Paid providers based on the enrollment of students receiving a subsidy, not attendance, to help ensure centers made closure decisions based on safety alone;
Issued rapidly-evolving health and safety guidance, including reopening guidance, for child care centers;
Connected child care workers to the important feeding programs run by school systems to ensure the people who care for children did not have to worry about putting food on the table for their own and those they educate;
Enabled essential personnel to go to work with confidence their children are in good hands by opening, and then extending, the CCAP to essential workers across the state;
Released a suite of resources and additional funding opportunities to ensure a strong start for every child in every community; and
Equipped every child care provider with high-demand supplies to ensure a safe and health reopening.
While these efforts have provided much-needed support, more must be done, according to a recent report by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. The report shows early care and education providers, some of whom risk permanently closing, need support to reopen, and parents will have even more difficulty affording early care and education due to COVID-19 precautions. It emphasizes critical investments must be made in early care and education for employees to return to work and the Louisiana economy to fully reopen.