Early childhood education is the key to a better future in Louisiana, but it is also key to a better economy now. This was made clear on the public television show entitled “Early Education Matters." This program made it clear that early child education is a workforce issue right now. "Losing Ground," a report from LSU Public Policy Research Lab in association with the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, details how child care issues result in major economic costs. The economy of Louisiana loses $1.1 billion annually because of child care issues, and there is an annual loss of tax revenue of $84 million. Almost half of the kindergarten children are not ready to learn and read because of lack of proper early child education and care.
This poor preparation predicts poor reading by the time children reach third grade. And that predicts early school dropout, poverty, incarceration, poor health and increased financial burdens on all of us. Early childhood education and care can cost as much as college. Most families can’t afford it. Since having it provides for the public good and the return on the investment is high, we need to find a way to fund it. Therefore, the Legislature needs to fund La Act 3, the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Act. At least the Child Care Assistance Program needs to be funded again, since it has been cut by 70 percent over the last 10 years. Hopefully, industry could help with the funding. The Cradle to K program needs to be supported. Investment in our children is worth it.
Claude J. Tellis Sr.