Ready Louisiana, a coalition of over 60 business, advocacy and community organizations from across the state, released a statement yesterday
urging the Governor and the Legislature to commit to a greater investment in early care and education.
Statement from Ready Louisiana
The early care and education community is pleased by Governor Edwards’ proposal to add $8.76 million* for early care and education to the proposed state budget. This effort is an important starting point for dialogue with state legislators about our early care and education needs. While these funds would preserve pre-K program opportunities previously funded by now-expiring federal grants, they would only fund child care services for 400 of the 5,500 children who are unfunded or on the wait list, leaving the remaining working parents with few, if any, options for high-quality, affordable care.
The need is great, and we must do more. An additional $31 million is required to fund the rest of the waitlist of working families awaiting child care services.
We, Ready Louisiana, urge the Governor and the Legislature to commit to a greater investment in early care and education to ensure all young children are off to a smart start in life. The recent state commission on funding this important priority for our families recommended an investment of $86 million. While we appreciate this recent proposal, we know more is required to address the legislative commission’s own recommendation.
Like the majority of likely voters across Louisiana, we support increased funding for high-quality child care for working families, including additional funding to clear the child care wait list and implementation of the “LA B to 3” plan by the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission referenced above. These investments are critical for Louisiana’s children, working families, and the economy.
In Louisiana, more than 40 percent of kindergartners start school behind their peers —and those who start behind are more likely to stay behind. However, quality early care and education can close this gap by developing cognitive and character skills when it matters most. Ninety percent of brain development takes place between birth and age four, wiring a child’s brain for future success or failure in school, work, and life.
Ready Louisiana is a coalition of over 60 business, advocacy and community organizations from across the state. We share the belief that high quality early care and education will prepare our students for a smart start in life, enable families to be productive in the workforce, and serve as an economic engine for local communities. Together, we support expanding access to high quality early learning across the state of Louisiana by restoring funding for early care and education. For more information see www.readylouisiana.org
There has been some confusion over the amount of money in the Governor’s proposal. Reference has been made to $13.54 million, but this includes $4.8 million of funds that the Department of Education has identified in its budget to replace some of the Pre-K slots that are ending with a federal grant. The actual amount of
in the Governor’s proposal is $8.76 million.