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'Essential Critical Service Workers' Can Now Get Child Care Assistance From The State

Shawanda Jefferson picks up her four-year-old son at the unregulated child care center — her only option due to costs.
Jess Clark
WWNO - New Orleans Public Radio

The state has expanded the criteria for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) to include “essential critical infrastructure workers,” according to a press release from the Louisiana Department of Education.

That means more Louisiana families are eligible for subsidized child care as the coronavirus pandemic continues to turn life upside down.

CCAP reduces the cost of a range of child care options, from in-home services to early learning centers. You can find a price scale here.

The program is typically reserved for lower-income families, but is being expanded to include families of any income level — so long as they are considered “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

“Essential critical infrastructure workers” is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of industries in which employees continue to work during times of crisis. It includes people working at restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, oil refineries and more.

A full list can be found here (beginning on page 5).

Despite the CCAP expansion, state officials are encouraging families and caregivers to keep their kids at home as much as possible to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

"If you can keep your children at home, please do so," Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux said in a press release. "But we must ensure affordable access to childcare for those who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response effort. Opening CCAP to critical personnel is necessary and important as we fight the spread of COVID-19."

Gov. John Bel Edwards ordered all public schools to be closed until April 13, but his proclamation did not apply to child care facilities. Child care facilities are allowed to remain open, but are encouraged to follow federal public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as limiting groups to 10 people or fewer.

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As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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