March 30, 2021

Dear Partners and Friends,

We are very grateful that earlier this month, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan which included additional federal funding for the child care sector. A press release from the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) anticipates that Louisiana will receive nearly $300 million in the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) and more than $475 million for child care sector stabilization, totaling more than $770 million to support child care businesses and families from the American Rescue Plan. 

We know from our recent survey of child care providers that the child care sector has faced a collective loss of $245 million between March 2020 and January 2021, and these businesses are still encountering many issues. We also know that many families in Louisiana are still not able to access affordable child care.

Part of the LDOE’s current plan for the federal funding includes creating new birth through three year old seats in high-quality child care centers. Over these next several months, our organization will work with LDOE to inform their plan on how to use the federal dollars, which will be expendable until 2024. Furthermore, we will advocate for sports betting revenues to be committed to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund during the upcoming 2021 Legislative session. To fully utilize the federal funding that is available to Louisiana, the state needs a plan on how to replace those funds in 2024.

Funding Our Future: The Economic Imperative of Early Childhood Care and Education in Louisiana, a report that the bipartisan Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission released last week, recommends that Louisiana ensure that at least $4 million is appropriated to the Early Childhood Education Fund prior to the 2021-2022 school year to match current local investment, and identify a robust source of ongoing funding for the Fund as future local investment grows. While proceeds from sports betting are not expected until two years after legalization, the resulting revenue will begin to support the Fund at roughly the same time federal aid is set to expire, creating a long-term, sustainable source of funding to expand access to early care and education for working families. We created a one-pager illustrating that the federal funds will only be able to cover access to child care for young children if there is a long-term sustainable state plan for funding. (View LPIC federal funds one-pager)
 
As policymakers begin to create the laws and regulations surrounding sports betting, please reach out to your legislators about this critical issue (find your legislator here) and urge them to make choices that will impact multiple generations of Louisianans. (View talking points for discussions with your legislator & sports betting advocacy one-pager).
 
We offer our organization as a resource over the upcoming Legislative session. Thank you for advocating on behalf of young children and working families in Louisiana.
Best,
Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
In this Issue:

  • Report Release: New Year, Same Challenges: The Continued Impacts of COVID-19 on Louisiana Child Care Providers
  • Spotlight: Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D. Featured in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana's "16 Women Paving the Way for Louisiana’s Future"
  • New Study: Dr. Libbie Sonnier Co-Authors Study About the Cognitive Effects of Early Care and Education in the First Five Years
  • Early Care and Education in the News
Report Release: New Year, Same Challenges: The Continued Impacts of COVID-19 on Louisiana Child Care Providers
LPIC surveyed Louisiana child care providers between January 13 - 27, 2021, in partnership with Agenda for Children, Child Care Association of Louisiana, Childcare Connections for Northeast Louisiana, Louisiana Association of United Ways, Northwestern State University, On Track by 5 Alliance, Pointe Coupee Early Childhood Coalition, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, and Volunteers of America. Read the full report here.

These surveys provide real-time insights into the state of early care and education over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the evolving challenges and circumstances facing child care providers. Child care providers continue to experience financial losses, financial and operational challenges, and low enrollment rate which leave many uncertain of their ability to remain open in the long term. Earlier today, LPIC held a virtual press conference to release the findings.
“Our most recent findings reiterate what we’ve witnessed firsthand over the last year, namely that further action is necessary to restore the early care and education sector to the level necessary to support businesses, working families and Louisiana’s full economic recovery from COVID-19,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “As we see it, the most immediate next step to create a long-term, sustainable source of funding is to advocate for the allocation of state revenues from sports betting, both in-person and online, to the Early Childhood Education Fund in the upcoming legislative session.” Read the full press release here.
Spotlight: Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D. Featured in Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana's "16 Women Paving the Way for Louisiana's Future"
As part of Women's History Month, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation featured 16 women who are "persevering, thriving and building up communities," including our very own Executive Director, Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D.

“When your greatest joy meets the world’s great need, that is vocation. Our greatest need is for our children to have the ability to learn, change, and grow to the best of their ability and my greatest joy is little people. Our little people deserve better so we must absolutely do better.”

New Study: Dr. Libbie Sonnier Co-Authors Study About the Cognitive Effects of Early Care and Education in the First Five Years
LPIC's Executive Director Dr. Libbie Sonnier co-authored a recently published study about the cognitive effects of early education and care in the first five years. The study, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, used MRI to investigate the effects of the Abecedarian program on adult brain structure. The program provided high quality support for cognitive and linguistic development in full day care from infancy up to kindergarten entry. The study presents evidence for a causal effect of early experience on brain structure and indicates that the early cognitive and linguistic environment affects macroscopic brain development. Read the study here.
Early Care and Education in the News

"Losses totaling about $100 million in the middle of 2020 rose to about $245 million through the end of January, according to a study by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children.”

- The Advocate


"The report finds that if the state were to invest the recommended initial $85.8 million in early care and education now, it would see an economic benefit of $1.8 billion over the next 10 years, which is nearly 21 times greater than the initial investment. By contrast, if no investment is made, the state could see a compounded economic loss of $12.1 billion over the next 10 years."

- The Louisiana Department of Education


"At some point the state must commit to making our youngest children a true priority. But let’s hope early education doesn’t come up totally empty this year, and let’s hope that after all the changes lawmakers will certainly make to the governor’s budget, education remains the priority we all know it should be."

- The Advocate
Upcoming Dates
  • Tuesday, April 6, 2021 (10:30 am - 12:00 pm), Children's Cabinet Advisory Meeting
  • Tuesday, April 20 - Wednesday, April 19 (9:00 am - 10:00 am), Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Meetings

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.