How Hard Is It To Get Subsidized Childcare In New Orleans?
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How Hard Is It To Get Subsidized Childcare In New Orleans?

Are these programs really accessible?

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How Hard Is It To Get Subsidized Childcare In New Orleans?
Del Norte Child Care Counsel

I have a son, he's two years and four months old. I have been trying unsuccessfully to get him approved for subsidized day care since I was pregnant. I was recently denied for the 3rd time in 6 months. They recently switched all the Child Care Assistance Cases to be handled by the Louisiana Department of Education rather than by the Department of Child and Family Services which handles things like SNAP (food stamps).

This last case, i applied October 3rd. I got a letter in the mail on Friday, October 14th that said I needed multiple documents due by Monday October 17th. I was actually off during the day on that day and was able to use the time before I went to work at my night job to find some of the documents. These things included pay stubs, birth certificates, immunizations, etc. Luckily, as I've continuously applied for this service for the past 2.5 years, I had these readily accessible and stored in my drives. I was able to ask my mother, who works at a school, to fax these documents for me that Monday and was able to get my son's daycare to fill out the forms and fax them that day.

However, what if I didn't have access to the fax machine? What if his daycare was closed on Monday? What if their fax machine was broken? I wasn't given a worker's number or contact info on my letter in the mail. I couldn't contact anyone directly and get no response when emailing or calling. I have been patiently waiting for news or more correspondence in the mail and hadn't gotten anything. I checked the online portal last week and it said case status was unavailable. I checked again tonight and saw I had been denied. I had been denied again for the 3rd time in 6 months. My childcare costs $640 a month. I am well below the poverty line despite working multiple jobs. $640 a month so I can work and go to school and my son can socialize with kids his own age and learn things. That is the same amount I pay for my rent, car insurance, and electric bill each month. I am lucky to have family members who do a significant amount of child care and contribute financially to my son's daycare costs. But how many times do I have to apply, call and wait on hold for hours only to be told to leave a message, or send emails that never get answered until I can get approved?

I had also applied in December 2015 and sent emails for four months until April of 2016 with only one response that I continuously replied to to no avail until I just reapplied on April 14th, 2016. I had asked to reopen my case and complained about a lack of correspondence from my worker and requested information on a case manager or supervisor to talk to.

Here's a list of the 3 times in the past 6 months that I have applied.

Here's a summary of emails dating Dec 4th - April 14th, 2016 about the same case and problems with my worker and mishandling of my case.

Here's a screenshot of my most recent case that said I failed to provide verification. However, I sent in all required documents on October 17th via fax and didn't ever receive another letter, email, notification, call, or mail from them. I sent a brief email tonight and will be calling during their business hours Monday morning.

I also went through an incredibly difficult process of applying for the One App and was denied despite meeting financial need qualifications and providing all documents. They give you little to no reason and little to no ability to appeal the decision.

If I'm a low income single mother of one going to school full time and working multiple jobs to get by and this city is supposed to have so many resources for childcare, why are they not accessible to me?

Keep in mind, I'm lucky enough to have a permanent residence, access to computer, access to cellphone, access to personal documents, transportation to and from centers, speak fluent english, have an advanced reading level, and a formal education and I was also not displaced by Katrina or the recent flooding in other Louisiana parishes. Not all mothers needing childcare and who'd be applying for these programs have the resources that I do. I can only imagine it'd be much harder for them to go through this process and get approved.

Why is this system broken? I can't afford childcare that's more than my rent. It's like I have to work a second job to pay for the daycare services I need to cover me during my day job.

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