How to Pay for Child Care
Child care can be a big expense for families with young children. The good news is that there are several programs that can assist parents.
Child Care Assistance Program
What is it? The Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) is run by the Louisiana Department of Education. CCAP helps low- and moderate-income families pay for the child care they need in order to work, look for work, or attend school or training.
How does it work? Your monthly payments will be based on the number of hours you work or attend school or training, the amount charged by the child care provider, and your family size and household income. You can select any Type III early learning center, school-based before and after school program, registered family child day care home, or registered in-home provider that participates in the program.
Special Opportunity for Critical Hospital Personnel: LDE is offering CCAP to anyone who works in certain occupations at a Tier 1 or 2 hospital. Eligible families will not be required to meet CCAP income eligibility requirements, and their applications will be expedited. Applications are open through October 31, 2021, and eligibility will last for 12 months. Note that families need to use the Pandemic Protective Services Crisis Application to apply for CCAP for hospital personnel.
Early Head Start & Head Start
What is this? Head Start is a family-focused child development program that offers education, health, parent involvement and social services for low income children and their families.
How does it work? All Head Start services are provided at no cost to children and their families. Head Start programs are offered in many different settings, including in child care centers, family child care homes, and public schools. Early Head Start provides services to pregnant women and children ages zero to three. “Traditional” Head Start serves preschool children, usually ages three through five. Early Head Start programs are not available in every parish, but there are “traditional” Head Start programs in every parish.
For detailed information about the Head Start programs in your area, call Child Care Resources at 1-800-486-1712.
Pre-K in Public Schools
What is this? Many elementary schools offer free or low-cost preschool programs for four year-olds.
How does it work? In Louisiana, children generally must be four by September 30th in order to enroll, though some schools provide preschool programs for three year-olds. School districts also offer programs for children ages 3 and older who are eligible to receive special education services. Each school district has its own policies and application deadlines, so contact your local school district and/or local charter schools to get more information on how to enroll your child.
Because schools may not have enough slots in the preschool programs for every child who wants to enroll, it is important that you start early! In some parishes, you can apply as early as November to enroll your child in the following August’s class.
Nonpublic Schools Early Childhood Development Program
What is this? The Nonpublic Schools Early Childhood Development Program (NSECD) is a pre-kindergarten program that provides free tuition at private schools for four year-olds from low- and moderate-income families. Some parishes do not currently have NSECD programs, but children from any parish may participate in the program.
Contact your local community network
Child & Dependent Care Tax Credits
What is this? Parents and guardians can receive child and dependent care tax credits on both their federal and Louisiana income tax returns.
How does it work? Depending on your income, your federal credit may be worth up to 35% of your child care expenses. The standard Louisiana child care tax credit is worth up to 50% of the federal child and dependent care tax credit, depending on a family’s income.
School Readiness Tax Credits for Parents
What is this? When you send your child to a Quality Start rated child care center, you’re not only giving your child the best possible care, you’re also entitled to a special new tax credit – the School Readiness Tax Credit (SRTC).
How does it work? This is a tax credit especially for taxpayers with children who are under the age of 6 who are enrolled in a Type III early learning center that has earned at least 2 stars in the state’s rating system for early care and education programs. The amount of the tax credit increases with the number of stars that the child care center has earned. The SRTC adds to your existing state child care tax credit.
Carol Bebelle is a poet, visionary and co-founder of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans whose work has touched countless New Orleans children, families and culture-bearers. Under her leadership, Ashé not only offered regular arts programming, but also year-round children’s programs and free summer camps.
In 2020, we passed zoning changes through the New Orleans municipal government which simplify and expedite zoning regulations for child care providers, making it easier for providers to expand their operations and increase capacity to serve families in need.