Roy Gilbert

State match could mean more free child care spots in New Orleans; groups lobby Cantrell for more city money

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One-year-old Jaci May clutched a plastic slice of bread as she played in the toy kitchen at Wilcox Academy of Early Learning with her teacher, a woman with a big smile. The North Broad Street center, which the toddler attends for free through a local program called City Seats, has been a godsend for her mom, Toy-Kyshawnna Thomas. Thomas makes less than $18,000 a year at the Volunteers of America, which she uses to support Jaci and her two other school-age children. Before she qualified for City Seats, Thomas relied on a fragile network of family, friends and babysitters to care for her daughter. It was a constant crisis. "(Now) I know for sure there’s somewhere I can bring her and she’ll be safe and I don’t really have to worry about a babysitter not being able to watch her," said Thomas, 32. "I have to work. … Staying home really wasn’t an option." Buy Now Jaci May, 1, holds onto Cedrica Price as she plays with pretend food with the toddlers at Wilcox Academy in New Orleans, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. New Orleans gave $1.5 million to child care providers to invest in the city’s youngest learners last fall. Child care advocates say it’s still not enough money and 9,900 low-income Orleans Parish children would be eligible for services if there was enough funding. STAFF PHOTO BY SOPHIA GERMER On average, child care in Louisiana costs $149 a week, according to the Economic Policy Institute — about 43% […]

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