February 7th marks the beginning of Early Ed Week in Louisiana, a time to highlight the importance of improving access to affordable, high-quality early care and education for all Louisiana families. On Tuesday, February 11, United Way of Northwest Louisiana will join with the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Louisiana Association of United Ways, Providence House Child Development Center, state legislators and community business leaders to speak up for increased access to early care and education for ALICE families in our region.
Child care is the most expensive category in the ALICE Report’s household survival budget for Louisiana, yet less than 15 percent of families with children under age four can access public early care and education funding.
According to Losing Ground, a study on the impacts of child care on Louisiana’s Workforce, 14 percent of Louisiana parents with young children turned down a promotion due to child care issues, 16 percent quit their jobs, and 20 percent went from full to part-time for the same reason. While these decisions seem to be distinctly personal, they create profound, lasting repercussions for our community and economy. The lack of access to early care and education results in an $816 million annual loss for Louisiana employers and a $1.1 billion loss for the state’s economy.
Louisiana currently spends less than one-half of 1 percent of its state general fund on early care and education, which leaves around 100,000 children without access to publicly funded early care and education seats in waiting, falling further and further behind their more affluent peers.
This week, we’re asking our elected officials and business leaders to attend the Louisiana Early Ed Week event at Providence House Child Development Center, the only homeless shelter with a Type III daycare center in the state. It is important that we begin a dialogue to help Louisiana’s working families afford quality early care and education for their children.
Louisiana’s economy needs Louisiana workers, and our working families need access to high-quality learning opportunities. Let’s take the difficult decisions off the table and make the easy choice – fully fund the need for publicly funded early care and education seats in Louisiana. It’s the best path forward for our families, our economy, and our beloved state.
Dr. Bruce G. Willson, Jr.
President & CEO
United Way of Northwest Louisiana