July 30, 2020
Dear Partners and Friends, 

Recently our team reflected on lessons learned from the past several months. We have reassessed how to push forth policies that ensure the health and safety of young children amidst the pandemic, knowing that another stage of recovery is coming--the period when the pandemic is over, but the economy has not yet bounced back. We know that funding will be in short supply during that second recovery, and that early care and education will be even more critical than ever.

Over the past few months, we have surveyed early care and education providers about their experiences during COVID-19. Some centers have closed, some have remained open, and others have reopened--all of them facing unique challenges. We will be releasing results from our most recent survey in August, but the preliminary results are troubling. Early care and education providers continue to lose money and their financial prospects remain uncertain. Based in part on our findings, the Louisiana Department of Education announced a third round of the Louisiana Child Care Assistance Provider (LaCAP) Relief grants of nearly $11 million in federal dollars.

In addition to our outreach efforts on the state level, we have also sought to educate and assist local governments and our federal delegation about the need to support early care and education providers through the pandemic recovery period. On the local government side, we developed a toolkit on how local governments can invest COVID-19 relief dollars in addressing immediate needs in early care and education. On July 14th, we held a  webinar which 45 people representing organizations around the state attended.

As Congress began its work on more potential COVID-19 response stimulus packages, we have continued to advocate for child care by working closely with the Ready Louisiana Coalition. Our organization assisted in writing a letter to our federal delegation, explaining that the CARES Act dollars for child care are nearly exhausted while a tremendous need to support Louisiana’s working families who are in need of child care remains. Several federal staffers have responded to the letter, thanking us for the information. We are hopeful that early care and education will be part of whatever action comes out of Congress next.

On July 22nd, I had the opportunity to be on Louisiana Public Broadcast’s "Reopening Education" episode and heard many questions from parents about their concerns about sending their children back to early care and education centers. We will be working with partners to conduct a family survey next month in order to learn more about the experiences of Louisiana’s parents and their needs for child care.

We look forward to continuing to be responsive to the needs of parents and early care and education providers in the coming months through sharing data and research to educate stakeholders and inform policy to support young children and working families in Louisiana.

Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
In this issue:

  • Friday, August 7th: Education Briefing with Superintendent Cade Brumley and Special Remarks by Governor John Bel Edwards
  • Early Care and Education as a Local COVID-19 Relief Measure
  • "Reopening Education" LPB Episode
  • Louisiana ranked 48th in overall child well being in Kids Count Data Book
  • Early Care and Education in the News
  • Upcoming Dates
Friday, August 7th: Education Briefing with Superintendent Cade Brumley and Special Remarks by Governor John Bel Edwards
On Friday, August 7th, from 10:00 - 11:00 am CT, the the United Way of Southeast Louisiana is holding a webinar featuring Louisiana Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley, who will share his vision for the education continuum in Louisiana. Governor John Bel Edwards will also join the program to discuss this important topic and share his education priorities.

A panel of subject matter experts including our own Executive Director, Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D. will also share insights and discuss key topics with Superintendent Brumley, including increasing access to affordable early care and education, quality instruction, and workforce development opportunities for ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households.
Early Care and Education as a Local COVID-19 Relief Measure
Louisiana is making funds available to cities and parishes for COVID-19-related expenditures through the recently passed SB 189. Cities and parishes have the opportunity to use these funds to support early care and education by purchasing health and safety supplies for child care centers, providing grants for child care businesses, funding short-term seats for the children of essential workers, or other COVID-19-response measures.

The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children developed a toolkit and co-hosted a webinar with Save the Children Action Network to inform local Chambers, economic development groups, and child care leaders about how they can advocate for their city or parish to invest COVID-19 response dollars into early care and education.
"Reopening Education" LPB Episode
Check out the recent "Reopening Education" episode on Louisiana Public Broadcast featuring our very own Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D. The COVID-19 outbreak in March triggered the closing of all of Louisiana’s public and private schools, serving over 800 thousand K-12 students. Colleges and universities closed through the spring semester and two-thirds of early learning centers were shuttered. Five months later amid a statewide surge in cases, nearly 67 percent of childcare facilities are operating again. This episode addresses the challenges and concerns of students and educators re-entering pre-K through higher ed classrooms.
Louisiana ranked 48th in overall child well being in KIDS COUNT Data Book
The 31st edition of the Annie E. Casey Foundation's KIDS COUNT® Data Book describes how children across the United States were faring before the coronavirus pandemic began. Louisiana has a significant amount of work to do. We ranked 50th in Economic Well-Being, 47th in Education, 43rd in Health, and 49th in Family and Community.

This year, New England states hold two of the top three spots for overall child well-being. Massachusetts ranks first, followed by New Hampshire and Minnesota. Louisiana (48th), Mississippi (49th) and New Mexico (50th) are the three lowest-ranked states.
Early Care and Education in the News
Letters: Now more than ever, support for early childhood education is vital

"The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children implores our state leaders to further prioritize funding early care and education moving forward and to continue to ensure that early care and education policies are centered on the health and safety of Louisiana’s children. The fact is, everyone claims early care and education is a priority — but if something is a priority, then we should fund it."

- Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D. from The Advocate
Report: By the time they enter kindergarten, Black students are months behind White peers

"Because they are less likely to have access to good preschool and pre-K programs, Black children are on average nine months behind in math and almost seven months behind in reading by the time they enter kindergarten, compared to their White peers."

- Della Hasselle from The Advocate
I loved my work at a child care center. But I was worth more than $11 an hour.

"I wanted to be a lead teacher, to have my own room full of children to help grow and develop. I went back to school, paying my own way, to get the credit hours I needed to become one. Then I went on to get my master’s and even commit to pursuing a doctorate in the field. I took work home, even though it didn’t get me any extra money beyond the paltry $11.13 an hour that I made. In my own time and on my own dime, I sought out additional professional development..."

- Aubry Stapleton from Chalkbeat
Upcoming Dates
  • August 11-12, 2020: Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Meeting, 9:00 am CT
  • August 18, 2020: Children's Cabinet Advisory Board Meeting, 10:00 am - 12:00 am CT
About Us
The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC)
is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
that is a source of data, research and information
for policymakers on issues concerning young
children in Louisiana.   

For more information, contact Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.
at lsonniernetto@policyinstitutela.org.
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