Calcasieu parents struggle to find affordable child care despite assistance programs

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Many parents are finding themselves in a bind trying to find access to affordable child care. Especially after changes were made by the Calcasieu Parish school system.

One mom trying to navigate how her kids will get the care they need tells 7News she’s worried about the upcoming school year.

“I feel like I’m going two steps forward and 6 steps back, but I have to continue. I have to continue for my kids,” Lettie Lee said.

Lee is a single mother of three boys, one 11-year-old and a set of 6-year-old twins. She does qualify for state help with child care, known as the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Her problem now, the program isn’t widely accessible since Calcasieu schools discontinued participation in CCAP several months ago and not all daycares accept it either.

“The anxiety and the fear of not knowing what’s going to happen in the future with my kids after school really, just really bothers me because I want to know. I want to make sure that plan ‘A’ is in place, plan ‘B’ is in place and make sure my kids are going to be taken care of,” Lee said.

She explained she is currently unable to afford the cost of the school’s extended day program on her own, and if she were to send them to a daycare that accepts CCAP, she runs into the problem of transportation.

“For me to pay out of pocket would be close to $500 a month,” Lee said. “I just can’t. I just can’t do that as a single parent living on a limited income.”

Lee said there seems to be challenges with the program all around.

The Calcasieu Parish School Board explains requirements to participate in CCAP are extensive and cost restrictive. A statement from CPSB reads as follows:

The Calcasieu Parish School Board discontinued participation in the Child Care Assistance Program several months ago. Requirements to participate in the Child Care Assistance Program are extensive and cost prohibitive. Maintaining the requirements to continue to accept the discounted payments was not affordable for our district due to the low number of families participating in the Child Care Assistance Program. However, even without discounted rates available through the Child Care Assistance Program, CPSB extended day programs remain the most affordable options for families.

As for Lee, she’s looked into other options like having a family member look after her kids after school, but they have their own jobs too. She said there’s no easy solution and has even considered if she needed to reduce her hours at work, but that then causes a financial bind.

“The only other option is to possibly take out a small loan to help pay for extended day after school, but then I’m going to have to worry about that cost of having to pay that back. And then it’s just going to become a never ending thing in the future,” Lee said.

She said she hopes more programs or a solution will be made available before the school year starts to help her and other families in a similar situation.

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