Workforce development starts at the cradle. That’s the message the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children wants the Legislature and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to remember when designating funding for early childhood education programs.
“If the state cuts it anymore, it will just be devastating,” Melanie Bronfin, executive director of the institute, tells the American Press’ editorial board.
Bronfin says her office is on a mission to preserve and expand School Readiness Tax Credits and see the Child Care Assistance Program for children from birth through age three restored.
“Both are critical to the infrastructure of and the quality of instruction in the child care system in Louisiana,” she says.
Bronfin says the tax credits, created in 2007, are one of the only state investments in the education of children from birth through age three—the “most critical time of brain development,” she notes.
“They serve as the state match for a federal block grant and without them, Louisiana stands to lose over $25 million in federal funds for child care programs statewide,” Bronfin says.
Bronfin says the CCAP enables parents of young children to stay in the workforce, attend job training or receive higher education by making good-quality child care more affordable.
“CCAP has been cut by almost 70 percent over the past eight years,” Bronfin says. “In a city like Lake Charles, where there is such a great need for skilled workers, the lack of child care options could easily be affecting local businesses’ efforts to hire, train and retain skilled workers from the area.”