Women United Op-Ed

February 11, 2019 | by Tami

Women United

Louisiana’s youngest need early education programs to succeed
February 11, 2019

By Women United: Misty Clanton, Denise Durel, Robyn Elias, Leona Fletcher, Paula Gaspard, Megan Hartman, Dana Keel, Debra Lastrapes, Darlene Moses, Cindy Self
− United Way of Southwest Louisiana’s high impact leadership group focused on issues surrounding poverty.

Over 40 percent of Louisiana children begin kindergarten behind their peers. Because ninety percent of brain development takes place from birth to four years, early childhood education is essential to future success. Less than 15 percent of eligible children in our state have access to publicly funded early care. We believe in leveling the playing field for our youngest at-risk community members by investing in their early education.

We will be joining with the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Louisiana Association of United Ways and United Way of Southwest Louisiana to learn more about the critical importance of investing in Child Care Assistance and finding additional recurring revenues to help our working families’ access quality early care and education for their children.

The K-12 education system feels the repercussions of starting school behind when a child struggles to keep up in a classroom, read at grade level or stay in school through graduation. Our working parents are turning their child’s care and development over to private providers with insufficient quality and care. Quality early education, which emphasizes key developmental milestones, is often unattainable for families due to lack of affordability.

Studies show that the foundation for learning and development is laid before a child reaches kindergarten, and those early learners who attend high-quality, publicly subsidized programs, perform better in school and are less likely to be held back later in life.

The future of Louisiana rests with our youngest residents, including the more than 40 percent not receiving adequate child care and early education. These children will be the workforce that runs our economy in a not so distant future. Let your legislators know you join us to ensure that any boy or girl, regardless of income, is provided the proper foundation and has a chance at a bright future.