Early Ed Month Focuses on Investments in High-Quality Care

BATON ROUGE — From the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children:

Today marks the start of the third annual Early Ed Month, an initiative to educate local and national policymakers, business leaders, parents and advocates on the need for investments in high-quality early care and education to support the workforce and economy in Louisiana.

Created by the nonprofit Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Early Ed Month 2024 will consist of 12 in-person and virtual events across the state that provide opportunities to learn more about critical issues surrounding early care and education that impact children and families.

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Last year, over ​​500 people participated throughout Early Ed Month virtually and in-person. It is expected that this year’s participation will exceed that number.

“In the last few years, Louisiana has made great strides toward the goal of expanding quality early care and education to every family that needs it,” said Arielle Hughes, owner and director of Carousel Preschool. “Last year, the state allocated $52 million for early care and education – a truly historic investment that must continue. Our children are among our greatest assets, and it will take all of us working together to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed.”

In partnership with Louisiana Association of United Ways, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, United Way of Central Louisiana, United Way of Southwest Louisiana, United Way of Acadiana, Capital Area United Way, and the Children’s Coalition for Northeast Louisiana, LPIC will co-host regional tours of child care centers across the state in Southeast Louisiana, Northeast Louisiana, Northwest Louisiana, Central Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, Acadiana, and the Capital Region to bring further awareness to ways families and child care providers are disproportionately impacted by the lack of access to high-quality early care and education programs across regions and parishes.

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“Early Ed Month is an opportunity for business leaders and policymakers to learn about this crucial issue,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “We’re excited for our leaders to learn more about foundational education opportunities for our youngest learners as well as the incredible benefits early care and education offers working parents, businesses, and our state as a whole.” 

Events in Early Ed Month 2024 include tours of high-quality childcare centers across the state, keynote addresses, and parent advocacy training. A full list of events is available here.

“As children’s first and most important teachers, parents are critical partners in educating others about this crucial issue and engaging with their elected officials,” said Dr. Sonnier. “Going into the upcoming legislative session, we want to ensure that Louisiana takes advantage of all opportunities to invest in expanding access to quality early care and education, increasing state investment, and creating opportunities for local governments to invest in early care and education.”

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Studies show that child care is often the most expensive item in a family’s budget. Some working parents face choices like borrowing money or forgoing necessities when trying to afford child care. Two-thirds of children birth to age four in Louisiana have both parents, or their single parent, in the workforce and as a result, need to spend a significant amount of time in child care. Local leaders have the opportunity to respond to the unique needs of children, families, businesses and educators in their communities by investing in early care and education. Investing in early care and education immediately benefits Louisiana’s workforce, businesses and economy.

“For our state to truly thrive, we must invest in our youngest learners and most vulnerable families,” said Charmaine Caccioppi, United Way of Southeast Louisiana’s executive vice president and COO. “We can make a thriving Louisiana for all a reality if we – business, government, and advocates – capitalize on our recent momentum and adequately fund high-quality early care so parents can work, children can learn, and communities can prosper.”

To kick off Early Ed Month 2024, a virtual keynote address featuring Dr. Cynthia Osborne will occur today, Feb. 1, at 11 a.m. This keynote will focus on several policy solutions that help foster the nurturing environments infants and toddlers need to thrive—highlighting Louisiana’s leadership in early care and education and illuminating areas for the state to grow. Dr. Osborne is the Professor of Early Childhood Education and Policy and Executive Director for the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University.

The virtual Parent Advocacy Training will take place Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. Co-hosted with the Save the Children Action Network, this hour-long training will teach parents how to communicate and engage with their elected officials at the state and local levels to advocate for issues concerning young children.  

The 2024 Parent Poll news conference will take place Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 9 a.m. where LPIC will release the results of the 2023 Parent Poll statewide survey. In partnership with Agenda for Children, the Louisiana Department of Education, and Women United of Southeast Louisiana, LPIC conducted this annual survey of Louisiana parents and guardians with children under age 5. The survey focused on the child care arrangements of surveyed families, including their needs and experiences related to child care. 

Continuing the conversation online, Early Ed Month advocates will raise awareness and advocate for continued investment in early care and education with a Social Media Day of Action on Thursday, Feb. 22. To help shed light on the importance of child care in Louisiana, download the social media toolkit at policyinstitutela.org and use the hashtag #LAEarlyEdMonth. 

Additional Early Education Month events include a Child Care & the Economy Business Breakfast Briefing co-hosted with the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). This invitation-only event will take place Friday, Feb. 23, and include a keynote address by the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year, Wayne Brown, Senior Vice President of Brown Builders. Brown will discuss the importance of early child care and the impacts it has on the workforce and the economy.

“Maintaining and growing equitable access to high-quality children care and education helps working parents while giving Louisiana’s children a safe and strong start on life,” said Sarah Berthelot, President, and CEO of the Louisiana Association of United Ways. “According to ALICE research, 29% of Louisiana’s children with two working parents were still unable to access quality child care due to the financial limitations of their family, already struggling to afford the basic necessities.”

 To register for Early Ed Month events and to learn more about how to get involved with supporting high-quality early care and education in Louisiana, visit policyinstitutela.org

Early Ed Month 2024 is sponsored by Entergy. Additional sponsors include Agenda for Children, Jones Walker LLP, Young Scholars Academy, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Cartel Strategies, Clara’s Little Lambs, Committee of 100, For Providers By Providers, Gambel Communications, Geaux Far Louisiana, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Mele Printing, New Orleans Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, ResourceFull Consulting, Save the Children Action Network, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, Urban League of Louisiana, and Baptist Community Ministries.

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