The Jefferson Chamber joins other local businesses, advocacy organizations, education professionals, parents and citizens seeking investment in quality, affordable early care and education in the Greater New Orleans region.
METAIRIE, LA – Ready Louisiana,a bipartisan, statewide coalition that is made up of 61 organizations throughout the state, including the Jefferson Chamber, is urging all candidates to include a plank in their platforms to increase access to quality early care and education for Louisiana’s working families, especially for children under age four.
According to Todd Murphy, President of the Jefferson Chamber, “A comprehensive approach to increasing access to early care and education is of up most importance for the Jefferson Chamber as it enables families to be productive in the workforce and serve as an economic engine.”
Ready Louisiana seeks to educate all Louisiana qualifying candidates for Governor, Legislator and the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) on its platform plank recommendations, which include the following:
Substantially increase access to quality early care and education for Louisiana’s working families, especially for children under age four.
A comprehensive approach is required, including:
- Support the Louisiana Early Childhood Care & Education Commission’s LA B to 3 plan, which includes an investment of $86 million in new funding annually to increase access from 22,000 to 177,000 children under age four over the next decade.
- Further increase infant and toddler child care reimbursement rates to reflect the true cost of quality care.
- Increase pay for early childhood educators in child care centers, who currently earn a median wage of $8.95 an hour, through mechanism such as the School Readiness Tax Credit for teachers.
- Review existing dedicated funds and identify opportunities to redirect them to quality early care and education.
- Commit to early care and education as a top priority for any new or expanded revenue.
The future of Louisiana depends on how willing the state is to care for and prepare its youngest citizens. 90 percent of brain development takes place between birth and age four. More than 3,000 families in Louisiana are currently on a waitlist for child care assistance. Ready Louisiana applauds the steps already taken by the Governor and the Legislature to invest in early care and education; however, the coalition seeks to raise awareness surrounding the families who still need access to quality child care.
“Funding high quality early care and education is the best possible way to put our state on a trajectory that changes the future of Louisiana,” said Representative Walt Leger III. “This is where we need to be investing.”
Senator Conrad Appel said, “Conservatives recognize that unless a child has the proper support and fundamental education they will have no reasonable expectation of success. In the waning days of this legislative session this new wave of conservative thought is revealed in the growing demand for funding for Early Childhood Education programs.”
According to a recent poll commissioned by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, this is a bipartisan issue of great importance. 82 percent of likely voters in Louisiana said that quality, affordable child care is an important issue in their communities and 81 percent believe that government should have some role in providing child care. Additionally, 62 percent of likely Louisiana voters support increasing state funding for quality child care among working families (this includes 50 percent of conservatives, 70 percent of moderates and 86 percent of liberals).
About Ready Louisiana:
Ready Louisiana is a bipartisan, statewide coalition of businesses, advocacy organizations, early care and education professionals, parents and citizens seeking sufficient investment in quality, affordable early care and education in Louisiana. For further information, visit www.readylouisiana.org.
About the Jefferson Chamber:
The Jefferson Chamber is a leading voice for Jefferson Parish’s business community. As a non-profit, membership-driven organization, the Chamber is an effective advocate for small and large businesses at the local, state and federal levels. The Chamber’s mission is to work for the advancement of the business community; to enhance the economic, civic and cultural environment; and to improve the quality of life in Jefferson Parish. The Jefferson Chamber is Four-Star Accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the 2013 and 2015 Chamber of the Year Award by the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in the Large Chamber Category.