Child care programs at risk of closure nationwide as federal aid money nears expiration
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - $24 billion dollars in relief money that Congress passed in 2021 in the American Rescue Plan is set to expire soon, which is forecasted to lead to an even larger childcare crisis than what many families are already facing.
This relief money assisted with childcare programs to cover daily costs. If this money isn’t replaced by new federal aid, childcare programs could either face closure or become more expensive for families and caregivers.
Tafta Miller, owner of The Cub House Early Learning Center in Monroe, said if families or caregivers lose access to nearby childcare programs, they will have to make difficult sacrifices for their children.
“So, sacrificing... that high-quality care - they’re going to be looking for something cheaper or free, and that is going to in turn hurt the children because they’re not in a high-quality center where they’re getting educated to where they’re going to be kindergarten ready,” said Miller.
According to Child Care Aware of America, a nonprofit advocacy group, the average annual price for child care in the U.S. costs up to $10,800 per child, forcing many families to live off of two or more incomes. Miller said families and caregivers could experience a loss of income in their households with nowhere to send their children while they work.
“Childcare is the backbone of the workforce. If there’s no childcare, there’s no workforce,” said Miller. “Parents that don’t have care can’t go to work - so lost wages; potentially losing jobs - going to a one-person income. So, financial strain; unsafe, unregulated care is two of the things the workforce is going to dwindle to.”
Miller said with this current relief money, she’s been able to stabilize her teachers.
“What we’ve been able to do is provide higher wages in the last three years. We’ve also gotten additional grant money to where we can give bonuses, and what the financial piece helps with is a higher pay to keep quality teachers,” said Miller.
The federal aid is set to expire on Sept. 30, 2023.
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