More Child Care Aid In Louisiana This Year, Shrinking Wait


BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The waiting list for a Louisiana child care program used by low-income working families is being trimmed by about 4,500, after a one-time injection of federal dollars.

The Child Care Assistance Program offers aid to low-income parents who are working or attending school.

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The Advocate reports that families newly eligible for the aid, which covers child care for children from birth to 4 years old, started getting digital or mailed notices Wednesday. Moves off the wait list will begin in September.

About 14,600 children are enrolled in the program, down from about 40,000 a decade ago before the program was decimated by budget reductions.

Superintendent of Education John White said he was grateful to use the infusion of federal cash to "provide affordable child care to thousands more of the hardworking families who have patiently waited for this opportunity."

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But he added in his statement: "It is important to remember this money is only guaranteed for one year and is only a small portion of the amount of funding needed."

Even with the new money, about 2,500 children will remain on the waiting list seeking services. The waiting list is expected to return to about 7,000 children in one year after the one-time federal dollars are spent.

Louisiana is receiving $39 million through the federal grant, with $28 million paying for the Child Care Assistance Program. The rest of the money is earmarked for improvements of the quality of care and infant and toddler services.

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Jonathan Pence, president of the Child Care Association of Louisiana, said state policymakers should make the assistance program a priority for future funding. Doing so, he said, would mean families "can continue to receive quality child care assistance while they work toward self-sustainability."

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