After monthly child tax credit expires, daycare providers say limits to enrollment are not financial

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Nathan Wilson | Reporter
One month after the expanded child tax credit?s expiration left a hole in many household budgets, Natchitoches childcare providers see little effect on their enrollment.
A monthly tax credit of up to $300 per child, provided as part of the coronavirus relief package enacted under President Biden, expired in Dec 2021 without being renewed. The sudden end to the short-lived payments left many families to navigate reduced income during January that they had grown accustomed to receiving since the tax credit payments began in July of 2021. While the impact of the monthly payments was widely credited with alleviating child poverty nationwide, childcare service providers across Natchitoches do not appear to have noticed much impact on children’s attendance.

This article published in the Feb. 3, 2022, print edition

Khadijah Abdullah, assistant director at A to Z 123 Preschool in West Natchitoches attributes the continuity of many children’s enrollment to other forms of assistance such as the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) received by the families of many of her students. The biggest obstacle Khadijah sees to students attending the preschool may be lack of transportation to the daycare itself. “There’s not enough room on the van (for more kids)” she remarked.
Fay Lagrange, director of Fay’s Day Care in East Natchitoches agreed with this assessment, Ninety-nine percent of the money did not go directly to childcare expenses” she estimated. Instead she cited a combination of federally funded childcare assistance along with scholarships that the city of Natchitoches provides for children up to the age of four for ensuring that parents can afford childcare. Even families not receiving other forms of financial assistance such as SNAP often qualify for state administered childcare assistance because of significantly higher income thresholds, especially for essential healthcare workers ranging from nurse practitioners to hospital janitorial staff.
Instead, Lagrange sees the child tax credit as a means of replacing income that many parents lost while caring for their sick children or recovering from illness themselves. Early in the pandemic, many employers were required to provide paid leave to employees who were unable to work because of personal or family illnesses, but those provisions expired at the end of 2020 leaving many parents to take unpaid time off.
As for enrollment, Lagrange’s eponymous daycare now has a waiting list for parents to enroll their children, and she suspects that many Natchitoches childcare providers face similar circumstances. According to a nationwide survey of 7,500 childhood educators by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, understaffing among childcare facilities appears to be the largest impediment to families attempting to access daycare and afterschool care services.