Business Leaders, Legislators Join United Way of Southeast Louisiana to Mark Louisiana Early Ed Week

JEFFERSON PARISH, La. – Business leaders and legislators from across the Greater New Orleans Area joined the United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA), Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Jefferson Business Council at an event on Thursday, Feb. 14, in honor of Louisiana Early Ed Week. Details were shared in a press release.

The event was one of several other events that took place across Louisiana, from February 11 through 15, hosted in partnership by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and United Ways across Louisiana to highlight the need to increase access to high-quality early care and education for Louisiana’s children and families.

“Our mission is to help our families achieve their potential and live healthy, financially stable lives,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA president and CEO. “We believe that must begin with access to affordable, high quality early care and education. It is impossible to overstate the importance of early education for our children today. It sets the child up for a successful education and career, while allowing working parents to do just that – work”

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The local leaders gathered at Beary Cherry Tree on Lake Villa Drive in Metairie to see firsthand what high quality early education looks like and gain a greater understanding about the importance of providing access to high-quality early care and education for children birth through age four across the region and state.

“As a community and society, there is a compelling moral argument to provide access to early education for our families,” said Todd Murphy, president of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “Yet here is an overwhelming economic argument to make in support of it as well. More than 40 percent of Louisiana children enter kindergarten already behind– and children who begin school behind generally remain behind. Early education is a great equalizer, shown to reduce K-12 education costs, reduce incarceration rates, and increase graduation rates. These benefits are estimated to reach up a ten percent return on investment per year. That’s a remarkable ROI.” 

A recent study, Losing Ground: How Child Care Impacts Louisiana's Workforce Productivity and the State Economy, found that child-care issues result in a $1.1 billion loss for the Louisiana economy, costing businesses $816 million a year and the state $84 million in tax revenue. 

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“You look at the numbers and it’s obvious that we are missing out on a great opportunity by not fully funding early care and education,” said Tony Ligi, executive director of the Jefferson Business Council. “This is literally a billion-dollar economic issue right now. But being here and seeing the kids and the amazing work they’re doing really brings home the fact that this isn’t just about dollars and cents. This is about our children’s future, and whether we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure the door to opportunity is open for them. That’s what early education can do, and I’m honored to be here today to support this work.” 

“Ninety percent of brain development takes place between birth and age four, but less than 15 percent of eligible children under age four have access to any publicly funded early care in our state,” said Melanie Bronfin, executive director, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. The repercussions of this are felt all the way through our K-12 education system, to our criminal justice system, and even have a significant impact on businesses and our state’s economy.”

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