The Louisiana Legislature has prioritized education funding during this year’s session, including an $84-million investment in early childhood education. The money is contained in the state budget that has been sent to the governor.
“It’s a historic win for the children of Louisiana they have more access to quality early care education in the amount of 84-million dollars,” said executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Libbie Sonnier.
Creating quality early childhood education opportunities has been a priority in Louisiana since the inception of the Cecil Picard LA-4 Early Childhood Program, but challenges caused by COVID and other factors have caused a dip in enrollment meaning a later start for many in acquiring needed skills. Sonnier says these programs ultimately pay for themselves…
“So what we know is that 90% of brain development happens by age four and so when we make these critical investments in young children, we know that we are getting a 13% return on investment for every dollar we spend,” said Sonnier.
The money will be split into two pots, $40-million will go to the Early Childhood Education Fund, which provides matching dollars for local school districts that invest in pre-K programs. The remaining dollars go to childcare assistance for low-income and working families and the LA-4 program. Sonnier is focused on ensuring this commitment lasts.
“Now the eye is on how do we continue to have this type of investment over ten years to really critically invest in the people of Louisiana,” said Sonnier.