LDOE employees speak out following concern over childcare funding problems
BATON ROUGE - A day after some parents told 2 On Your Side they have been running into trouble with the state's childcare assistance program, employees handling applications are sharing their side of the story. They say they're drowning in paperwork, jobs are being cut and employees are leaving.
The employees do not want to be identified but say things within the Louisiana Department of Education are a mess.
"Right now, we have 3,500 applications that haven't been processed," one employee said.
In February, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education changed the income threshold for qualifying applicants, opening the door for more parents to receive assistance. The state employees tasked with processing those applications say they're short-staffed and have over two dozen vacancies.
"We are trying to process applications as fast as we can. We still have July applications that have not been processed, we have August and September applications as well as re-determinations that have not been processed, they are in limbo."
Several parents who reached out to 2 On Your Side say they rely on that state assistance to keep their job, go to school and provide for their family. One woman who did not want to be identified said that she applied for the CCAP program in June. She fears her paperwork got lost, and she received a denial letter a few days ago.
"I feel stagnant, I feel stuck," she said.
She had to pull her two children out of daycare because she stopped receiving funding. Parents tell WBRZ that they have been trying to reach someone via phone at the office to answer their questions or check on their application status.
"Every time you call you're on hold for 45 minutes. At least 45 minutes," the mother said.
According to one employee, there aren't enough people to answer the phones.
"We are trying to get to the calls as fast as we can, but we have a revolving door," the employee said.
LDOE says with the expanded eligibility, it's able to serve about 3,000 more kids. There's a waitlist for applicants who apply after Oct. 1. The state is still working to recoup funding from daycare centers that have received funding where an applicant no longer attends.
The state says its call center is in a transition period over the next month, but it can be reached by email here. While no one was available for an interview Friday, the following statement was provided:
"Over the last several years, Louisiana has made historic investments in early care, serving more families. We can only serve as many families as our funding allows."
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