"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.