Early Ed News and Updates - June 20, 2019
  • Over 1,400 Children Moved Off Waitlist for Child Care Assistance Program
  • Louisiana Continues to Rank Near the Bottom in Child Well Being
  • Why the South’s Economy Is Falling Behind

Over 1,400 Children Moved Off Waitlist for Child Care Assistance Program
The Louisiana Department of Education announced yesterday that it will be adding over 1,400 additional children to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides child care subsidies for children birth through age 3 whose parents are working or attending school. This announcement comes after the Louisiana Legislature, for the first time in a decade, increased funding in the state budget for early childhood education.
Governor John Bel Edwards signs the 2019-20 budget bill, with representatives from the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children: Libbie Sonnier-Netto, Executive Director, Gwen Hamilton, Board President, and Melanie Bronfin, Policy Director.
The roughly $20 million earmarked for the state’s youngest learners will fund the following in 2019-2020: 

  • $8.9 million to fund more than 1,400 additional seats for children birth through age 3 currently on the waitlist for Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP);
  • $8.8 million to fill the void of an expiring federal grant that provides pre-kindergarten services to four-year-old children; and
  • $2.3 million to support an important, federally-required increase in the CCAP rate.
"We are grateful for the opportunity to provide affordable child care to more of the hard-working families who have patiently waited for this opportunity," said State Superintendent John White. "But it is only a small portion of the amount of funding needed to help our most vulnerable children."

Funding cuts have decreased CCAP enrollment from almost 40,000 children in 2007 to under 15,000 in the current year. Today, an estimated 173,000 low-income children, birth through age 3, across Louisiana cannot access affordable, high quality early childhood care and education. 

This lack of access was highlighted by the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education Commission in its “LA B to 3” funding plan. The plan, which was unanimously adopted in January 2019, outlined the need for an additional $86 million per year for 10 years to serve the children birth through age 3.

Louisiana Continues to Rank Near the Bottom in Child Well Being

The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2019 KidsCount Data Book shows Louisiana is ranked 49th in child well-being, the same as last year and down from 48th in 2017. In all four categories measured by the report, Louisiana ranked at or near the bottom: economic well-being (50th), education (48th), health (42nd), and family and community (48th). 

One area in which Louisiana beats the national average is the number of children ages 3-4 who were not in school. Nationally 52% were not in school; whereas, in Louisiana it drops down to 48%. In fact, in Louisiana over 90% of at-risk 4 year olds can access a Pre-K program, but only 33% of 3 year olds can. 

According to the report:

  • Louisiana’s child population has dropped by over 100,000 in the last three decades.
  • 307,000, or 28%, of Louisiana’s children live in poverty as of 2017, down from 29% in 2016, but up from 27% in 2010. Nationwide, child poverty dropped from 22% in 2010 to 18% in 2017.
  • 74% of Louisiana’s 4th graders are not proficient in reading as of 2017, an improvement from 82% in 2009, but still well above the national average of 65%.

In a statement about the report, Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children, stressed that Louisiana needs to invest in policies and programs that give children "a strong foundation and attract new families" to the state in order to see Louisiana grow and thrive. "Louisiana's children represent 1,108,403 unique opportunities to create a stronger, more vibrant state," Recasner said.

Why the South’s Economy Is Falling Behind

Over the past decade, the South has experienced the nation’s slowest growth in output and wages, lowest labor-force participation rate, and highest unemployment rate. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, this is because policies that once drove the region’s growth - relatively low taxes and low wages that attracted factories and blue-collar jobs - have proven inadequate in an global economy that favors cities with concentrations of capital and educated workers.

Many economists say the most effective way for the South to regain its momentum would be to invest more in its human capital, specifically education, which would over time create a more skilled workforce to attract employers. There has been movement in this direction, but progress has been slow given southern states’ historic desire to keep spending and taxes low.
The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) advances policies to ensure that Louisiana's young children are ready for success in school and in life. We are a source of nonpartisan, independent information on issues concerning children ages birth through four in Louisiana. We also develop policy proposals informed by data, research, best practices and the experiences of other states for improving the outcomes of Louisiana’s young children, and then provide educational and outreach activities around these recommended policy solutions.

To learn how to support LPIC, click here . For the latest news and updates on early care and education, visit our website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. For more information, contact Melanie Bronfin, mmbronfin@policyinstitutela.org.