Struggling to Recover: The Impacts of COVID-19 on Louisiana Families with Young Children

Working families in Louisiana rely on early care and education programs to support parent employment and child development. Previous research conducted by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) has shown that child care breakdowns have a significant negative impact on Louisiana's economy. Resulting employee absences and turnover end up costing Louisiana employers $816 million annually and the state almost $84 million in tax revenue.

And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, having wide-ranging and devastating impacts on Louisiana's people and economy.

In the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic, families faced shifting education and care options for
their children as K-12 schools largely remained closed until the fall and many child care providers closed or had reduced enrollment capacity due to public health requirements. At the same time, record
numbers of Louisianans filed for unemployment. Unemployment rates began to decline through the
summer, as more businesses were able to reopen and employees returned to work. By the fall, as
schools reopened and child care provider capacity somewhat increased under revised COVID-19 related
guidelines, care and education arrangements for children began to stabilize, although the long-term
implications of the pandemic on the child care sector's financial viability remains unknown.


To learn more about how Louisiana families with children under the age of 5 have been impacted by, and managed during, the COVID-19 pandemic, LPIC, with partners, conducted a survey of Louisiana parents and guardians in the fall of 2020. Partners included Agenda for Children, Louisiana Department of Education, New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, Urban League of Louisiana, and Women United of Southeast Louisiana.

Key Findings (Statewide):

  • Even in an economy affected by COVID-19, families with young children continue to need child care to support parent employment or education, and parents must adjust schedules to fill child care gaps

    • Most responding parents in Louisiana were working or in school, full time and outside the home

    • More than three-quarters of families with young children relied on some type of formal child care outside the home

    • Parents, on average, reported their children were in child care for 39 hours per week

    • Almost two-thirds of parents experienced some sort of adjustment to their work or school schedule to provide child care during the pandemic

  • Families are struggling to afford child care and basic necessities, with child care costing the average Louisiana family almost $10,000 a year 

    • On average, families in Louisiana reported currently paying $399 per child per month for child care — for a family with two children that would translate to $9,568 per year

    • Nearly one-third of families received some type of subsidized child care, either through enrollment in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) and/or a free child care program

    • Almost half of parents were concerned about being unable to afford child care due to the high cost

    • Nearly 1-in-2 parents worried about being able to afford their family's basic needs

  • Working families continue to rely on child care even in the face of reduced income, increased stress, and concern about the spread of COVID-19 

    • The majority of parents in Louisiana reported the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted their lives and increased their stress level as a parent

    • Almost half of parents saw their family's monthly income decrease during the pandemic

    • Nearly one-fifth of parents reported their work or school hours have decreased compared to February 2020

    • Almost 1-in-6 parents reported another adult in their household lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic

    • One-third of parents were concerned about their employment

    • Almost two-thirds of parents were concerned about the spread of COVID-19 through child care

  • Economic challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic hit families of color and lower income families especially hard

    • Unemployment rates were nearly twice as high for Black/African American parents and nearly three times as high for parents with a family income below $20,000 per year

    • Parents of color and parents with family incomes below $50,000 per year were more likely to have seen their monthly income decrease

    • Black/African American and multiracial families and families with incomes below $50,000 per year were more likely to have an adult in the household experiencing job loss due to COVID-19

    • Parents of color and parents with family incomes below $50,000 expressed concern about being able to afford their family's basic needs at higher rates

Struggling to Recover: Southeast Louisiana Findings

Key Findings (Southeast LA):

  • Families with young children continue to need child care to support parent employment or education, and parents must adjust schedules to fill child care gaps. 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a financial toll on families and increasing stress for parents.

  • Families are struggling to afford child care and basic necessities.