I have been in law enforcement for over 30 years, and I take my responsibility to serve and protect the people in my community very seriously.

In Louisiana, keeping our communities safe is a constant challenge. Our state has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country, and I am continually concerned about this loss of human potential and the lasting impact on Louisiana families and taxpayers. In order to address this problem, we have to start early and put young people on a path that will keep them away from later behavioral problems and crime. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to invest in high-quality early childhood programs.

Research shows that kids who participate in high-quality child care programs are more likely to succeed in school later in life and are less likely to develop behavioral problems. These programs also provide a safe and supportive place for kids who may experience abuse and neglect at home.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic strain it has caused, investing in high-quality child care programs has never been more critical. Although Louisiana received federal relief funding for child care through the CARES Act, this money alone is not enough to support the families in our state impacted by the pandemic.

In order to ensure that young people can access high-quality programs, Louisiana legislators need to continue to provide robust funding for child care through the Child Care Assistance Program for Families (CCAP). This program provides financial assistance to low-income families in our state who would otherwise not be able to afford high-quality child care programs.

In the spring, the Louisiana Department of Education opened up the CCAP program to essential personnel tasked with responding to the pandemic. This move allowed health care workers and law enforcement officers, among others, to access affordable child care.

As we head into the fall, essential workers are still responding to the pandemic, but funding to maintain their access to affordable child care is running out. When the Louisiana Legislature reconvenes for its expected special session, legislators must provide additional funding to extend CCAP coverage for essential workers. Without this additional funding, we are placing an undue burden on those who have done so much to keep our communities healthy and safe.

I understand that legislators will have to make many difficult decisions during the special session about how to allocate limited resources. However, I strongly believe that ensuring access to high-quality child care should be a top priority. It is a smart investment that will pay dividends in the future.

GREG CHAMPAGNE

sheriff, St. Charles Parish

Luling