BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - For working parents, childcare is a necessity and it's often an expensive one.
Allison Kaigler works with a pharmaceutical company. Her husband, Earl, is a barber. Both jobs require odd and demanding hours, so they depend on daycare and after school programs for their two sons.
"It's hard sometimes. I have to work late and daycare closes at six and sometimes I can't get out," said Allison.
The Kaiglers estimate they spent more than $10,000 on childcare last year. On average, Louisiana parents will spend around $5,600 on childcare for a kid each year.
According to a new study from LSU's Public Policy Research Lab, The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Entergy, and Loyola University New Orleans, nearly 20 percent of the Louisiana workforce is comprised of parents with young kids. That means childcare is an issue that affects businesses, as well as families.
Researchers surveyed hundreds of working parents across the state and found that 40 percent recently missed work due to childcare issues. One in six parents said they had quit their job due to childcare issues and one in 13 said they'd been fired because of those reoccurring issues. Economists with the study believe the absenteeism and turnover alone cost Louisiana employers $816 million a year. The study also estimates the state loses nearly $84 million in tax revenue each year because of lost workplace productivity.
"As a result of that, businesses have to invest dollars in training and hiring new workers. So these are not trivial costs to employers," said study co-author, Dr. Belinda Davis.
Another author, Melanie Bronfin, also believes state budget cuts have compounded the economic impact of a lack of quality childcare. For example, the state's Child Care Assistance Program, which helps provide childcare for low income working families, has had its funding slashed by nearly 70 percent over the last decade. The director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), a non-partisan, non-profit organization focused on early education, believes lawmakers should prevent further cuts.
"The State of Louisiana could reverse this trend by restoring funding to the Child Care Assistance Program for children under the age of four years so their parents can be productive employees," said LPIC director, Melanie Bronfin.
However, Bronfin admitted that with current budget issues, lawmakers are not likely to add any funding.
Read the full study here.