Louisiana Policy Institute for Children: Institute advocates for Louisiana’s youngest residents

A lot happens between a child’s birth and their fourth birthday: for example, learning to talk and walk, discovering the world around them, and developing their own personality. It’s a critical time of growth for children—and their parents—who often lean on others for help. The Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) provides and advocates for research-backed policies that support the state’s youngest residents and those who care for them.


Top executives: Libbie Sonnier, PhD, Executive Director

Phone: 504.442.0298

Address: P.O. Box 13552, New Orleans, LA 70185

Website: policyinstitutela.org

The institute was founded in 2014 by Melanie Bronfin, who saw a need for a nonpartisan, nonprofit source of research and data on issues affecting babies through 4-year-olds along with their families and care providers. Since then, LPIC has made significant strides. Louisiana now offers $87 million in assistance to help ensure access to quality childcare, and the state ranks in the top 20 nationally for accountability of how those dollars are spent.

Research from the institute has helped shape those policies. It continues to aid leaders’ decision-making through unbiased data on key issues such as how to keep childcare centers open during COVID and the need for pay raises for providers.

The organization emphasizes the importance of early childhood education. Providers are “brain architects,” not babysitters, says Libbie Sonnier, who has led the institute since 2019. Because 90% of the brain is developed by age 4, the caregivers and teachers a child encounters early in life have a lasting impact.

Childcare matters for adults, too. Louisiana’s economy loses $1.3 billion a year due to access problems. That number comes from parents’ inability to take full-time jobs because they can’t afford childcare.

“It’s a two-generation approach,” Sonnier says. “It’s a workforce-of-today issue because parents have to go to work, and they need to know that their little people are receiving a quality education in safe and healthy environments. It’s also a workforce-of-tomorrow issue. Currently, in Louisiana, 70% of children entering kindergarten are not ready to interact with kindergarten materials. They’re already starting behind.”

Getting them ready starts early, Sonnier says. One way the institute is helping is through the Geaux Far Louisiana coalition, which is championing five pillars toward creating a unified childcare system in the state. For more information about LPIC and what it is doing for our state’s youngest learners, visit www.policyinsitutela.org.