Louisiana is set to receive $773 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund early child care, but an early childhood advocate says if the state wants to see meaningful, lasting change, it needs consistent investment from the state.
Only 46% of Louisiana third-graders are on track to master English and only 43% are on track to master math, a disturbing statistic that Louisiana State Superintendent Cade Brumley attributes to 60% of the state’s kindergarteners starting school already behind the curve, Louisiana Illuminator reports.
Calling early childhood preparedness “the most important educational challenge of our generation,” Brumley said in a virtual news conference in January, “we have to invest” in programs that give economically disadvantaged children more access to early childhood programs.
Louisiana received $193 million for child care relief from the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill, and $773 million from last month’s American Rescue Plan Act, Ted Beasley, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Education said.
The White House released a statement Thursday saying that the American Rescue Plan Act’s $39 billion funding nationally “will provide a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of child care providers and early childhood educators, provide a safe and healthy learning environment for more than 5 million children, and help parents, especially mothers, get back to work.
Libbie Sonnier, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, says that the federal funding for early child care does “start to build the bridge” toward a more secure statewide early childhood education system, but “only part of the bridge gets built with this federal funding. And that’s why the state investment to finish building the bridge becomes really desperately important.” Read the full story.