(Baton Rouge, LA)United Way of Northwest Louisiana is joining a coalition of over 60 business, education, civic groups and fellow United Ways to meet at the Louisiana Capitol on Tuesday, May 21, to call for an increased investment in high-quality early education and care (ECE) in Louisiana that supports working parents and is sustainable over the next 10 years.

These representatives request Governor John Bel Edwards and the legislature honor the work of the legislatively-convened 2018 Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission, which recommended the state invest $86 million this year to address the comprehensive needs of children birth to three who need access to quality, affordable early ECE because their parents work. The Commission also said an equivalent investment was needed each year for the next decade to bring Louisiana up to national care standards.

The coalition will meet with the governor, legislators and key state and business leaders during a luncheon at the Capitol on May 21, in the Governor’s Press Room (floor 4, State Capitol). Additional featured speakers include Entergy President and CEO Phillip May, Representative Joe Marino, Secretary of Workforce Development Ava Dejoie, Chris Broadwater of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and lead ECE advocates.

Armed with opinion polls, extensive workplace and issue studies and passion, the advocates said at least an additional $31 million is needed just to deal with the wait-list of 5,500 families seeking to participate in the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) of the state. Total children once served in Louisiana through CCAP was more than 40,000 just 10 years ago, but has been slashed to 15,000 children today.

“Our state has cut funding for comprehensive, affordable early childhood systems which help working parents access high quality childcare for their children,” said Bruce Willson, President/CEO of UWNWLA.  “Louisiana families with one infant and one preschooler experienced a 35% increase in child care costs between 2010 and 2016. Single parents pay 38%  of their income for infant center care, and 45% of the state’s children are in single parent families.”

“Accessing quality childcare has a two-generational impact, supporting children to become kindergarten-ready and helping families access child care so that they can seek employment opportunities, remain in the workplace, or complete workforce training,” said Sarah Berthelot, President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of United Ways. “For Louisiana ALICE workers with young children, the cost of quality childcare is the single largest expense, surpassing rent or mortgage. ALICE workers commonly make choices between quality childcare and other basic necessities.”

“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,” said Melanie Bronfin, Director, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC). “We request full funding for the LA B to 3 Plan proposed by the Legislative Commission. This investment is critical for Louisiana’s children, working families and the economy, and anything less is a disservice to our entire family structure in this state.”

The state’s lack of access to quality, affordable ECE is responsible for substantial economic costs to Louisiana employers and working households as single-parent and two-parent working households account for two-thirds of all young children in the state. Louisiana employers lose $816 million a year due to child care breakdowns resulting in a $1.1 billion loss annually for the state’s economy.

Read more about the state results from this action here.