Survey: La. Child Care Industry Facing Serious Challenges

BATON ROUGE — From the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children:

On Sept. 26, the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children released results from “Help Wanted: The Staffing and Operating Challenges Facing Louisiana Child Care Providers,” which surveyed Louisiana child care businesses to better understand the challenges of the field. LPIC conducted the survey in partnership with Agenda for Children, the Child Care Association of Louisiana, Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, For Providers By Providers, Louisiana Association of Education of Young Children, Louisiana Association of United Ways, Northwestern State University, On Track by 5 Alliance, Pointe Coupee Early Childhood Coalition, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and Volunteers of America.

The results provide insights into the challenges facing the early care and education sector, emphasizing the following:

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  • Child care providers are not immune from the pinch of inflation and rising costs of doing business, with over two thirds of providers seeing insurance premiums rise by an average of almost $17,000.
  • Child care, like other industries, experiences major staffing challenges, with two-thirds of providers worried about short- and long-term employee turnover.
  • Staffing challenges and delays in public child care assistance leave many families waiting for care, with over two-thirds of providers reporting they maintain a waitlist with an average size of 34 children.
  • While providers have increased wages in an effort to retain employees, most child care workers still earn less than a livable wage and receive few workplace benefits.

“Child care is a crucial element of our state’s economy,” said Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “Without access to quality, affordable child care, parents cannot go to work—period. The findings from this latest provider survey should trouble all Louisianans, especially as federal aid for child care expires and Congress seems poised to cut further.”

According to the findings, most child care providers in the state are experiencing rising costs for routine expenses, like food, cleaning supplies, and insurance.

“The findings from this survey reiterate the urgent need to support families and our economy,” said John Dean, president and owner of AirSystems, LLC. “Everyone talks about the insurance crisis in Louisiana, but no one is talking about how the businesses that care for and educate our babies are facing insurance premium increases of almost $17,000 a year.”

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While parents continue to need and utilize child care, as evidenced by two-thirds of all child care providers maintaining a waitlist, the business model does not support employees earning a living wage, contributing to high turnover. More than half of child care businesses in Louisiana indicated they have a staff opening, and for providers that lost staff in 2023, over half of departing employees cited higher wages at their new job as the reason for departing.

“It is alarming to realize that all other businesses rely on this one particular business, and child care business models are so precarious,” said Nancy P. Alexander, director of Northwestern State University Child and Family Network. “Even with child care businesses doing all they can to increase wages, they’re still losing quality employees and struggling to hire new ones.”

The complete findings from “Help Wanted: The Staffing and Operating Challenges Facing Louisiana Child Care Providers,” can be found here. The survey was conducted from April 26, 2023, to May 19, 2023. Questions ranged from asking about operational challenges and cost increases, staffing challenges, and more. For more information on LPIC, visit PolicyInstituteLA.org. To watch the press conference, click here.

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