BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – The Louisiana Legislature has made an $84 million investment, passing HB1 and HB406 for the early care and education of Louisiana children. Louisiana Policy Institute for Children policy director RuthAnne Oakey-Frost said less than 50% of children are ready for kindergarten.
The $44 million credit from HB1 would provide $25 million to expand the Child Care Assistance Program, which provides assistance to families to help pay for child care costs needed to work, go to school or get training. In addition, this credit would also provide approximately $18 million to improve rates for existing programs for 4-year-olds.
HB406 will allocate $40 million to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund, which provides local entities with dollar-for-dollar state matching to expand access to quality early care and education programs for children and families who need it the most.
“We consider this to be a historic installment of what the state needs to do to move Louisiana forward,” Frost said. “We’re just incredibly thrilled that lawmakers had the foresight to really prioritize this critical issue in a year when they had the funding to do so.”
“Our studies have shown that child care is often the most expensive item in a family’s budget, it’s often more expensive than a rent or mortgage payment,” Frost said.
Studies also show that children who are not in school at the end of third grade are more likely to be high school dropouts and involved in the juvenile or criminal justice system later in life. life.
“If you invest in people upfront and help get them on the right path, you’re much less likely to have to pay all of these direct incarceration and rehabilitation costs and then the societal costs,” he said. Frost.
Oakey-Frost said these bills will have a major impact on the workforce and long-term positive impacts on our children. Both bills have been sent to the governor for executive approval.
“If a family needs access to high-quality early care and education in the state, they should be able to get it,” Frost said.
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