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Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton, is co-chair of the state commission that on Friday renewed its request to the Legislature for $86 million per year for early childhood education.    

For the third consecutive year a state panel Friday asked the Legislature to provide $86 million per year for 10 years to expand early childhood education.

The Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Commission said without the spending 114,000 children will lack access to quality programs that prepare them for kindergarten.

The effort is called "LA B to 3," which means birth to age 3.

The Legislature in 2019 approved $20 million to widen access to pre-kindergarten seats for four-year-olds and for a small number of three-year olds.

Backers noted that the state is getting about $775 million for child care from the $1.9 trillion federal stimulus bill approved earlier this month.

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"However, we know that the state must put together a plan now for how it will fund early care and education at the appropriate levels once the stimulus funding runs out," state Sen. Beth Mizell, R-Franklinton and co-chair of the commission said in a statement.

The group also wants the Legislature to provide nearly $4 million in matching funds to go with that amount in local dollars for the Early Childhood Education Fund for the 2021-22 school year, and to identify a permanent funding source for that match.

State Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley said only 40% of children in Louisiana enter kindergarten ready to learn.

"While we embrace the short-term solution provided through stimulus funds, Louisiana should consider investment for the long-term funding solutions," Brumley said.

The commission includes state lawmakers, educators, officials of child care groups and higher education leaders.


Email Will Sentell at wsentell@theadvocate.com.