Ready Louisiana Coalition 2023 Election
The Ready Louisiana Coalition — a bipartisan group of over 150 organizations including chambers of commerce, civic organizations, businesses, and advocacy organizations representing more than 1 million people in Louisiana’s workforce — exists to advocate for one issue: increased access to high-quality early care and education for the children and families who need it. Our membership believes that investing in high-quality early care and education will prepare our youngest children for a smart start in life, enable families to be productive in the workforce, and serve as an economic engine for communities across Louisiana.
Currently, two-thirds of Louisiana’s young children have both their parents or their single parent in the workforce, but only about 15% of in-need children age birth to three are able to access a publicly funded child care seat. At the same time, only about 40% of our kindergarten students enter school meeting crucial benchmarks. With high-quality early care and education often costing as much as college tuition, it is no wonder that so many parents turn to less-expensive, low-quality alternatives, and, because of this, these children start kindergarten behind.
During recent years, Louisiana has made great strides when it comes to investing in young children. However, Louisiana and its children remain at risk of falling behind.
We, the Ready Louisiana Coalition, urge all candidates for state-level office to:
Include early care and education as a priority in their platforms, as an issue with not only wide-ranging impacts on educational outcomes, but also workforce participation and productivity, state economic growth, poverty reduction, improved health outcomes, and reduction in crime rates; and
If elected, commit to supporting increased funding for early care and education, which offers the state tremendous return on investment.
Furthermore, we urge all voters to study the candidates and support those who commit to investing in early care and education, which is an educational and workforce issue that affects all Louisianans. We need leaders who understand how crucial investing in young children is for our economy and our families.
Early Care and Education is an Economic Driver Today.
Ensuring access to early care and education for young children will strengthen the Louisiana economy, which loses $1.3 billion a year due to the impacts of child care breakdowns on working parents. ECE access will also help reduce the number of working parents who miss work, leave or change jobs, come in late, or leave early because their child care situation was unreliable, unaffordable, inaccessible, or some combination of the three.
Working families who benefit from state investment in child care are a crucial part of the workforce, and keep our economy running by working as nursing assistants, cashiers, elementary school teachers, sanitation workers, and construction laborers, among many other jobs. If Louisiana wants to keep unemployment numbers low and make sure that these essential employees do not leave their jobs, it is crucial that parents have the support they need to be productive members of the workforce.
Early Care and Education Saves the State Money in the Future.
When families have access to early care and education, parents can go to work or school and children’s developing brains receive the crucial experiences they need for long-term success. Children who have access to quality early care and education are more likely to enter kindergarten ready, read by third grade, graduate from high school, attend college, and be productive members of the workforce–and they are less likely to need remedial education services, special education services, or become involved in the juvenile or adult criminal justice systems.
When parents are able to access quality child care for their children while they work, look for work, or go to school, the family is more likely to improve its own economic circumstances. Public investment in early childhood provides a greater return than any other time of life; Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman’s recent research shows a return on investment (ROI) of up to 18%. Only 1% of our total state dollars are spent on early care and education. State leaders must make children and families our priority.
We, the Ready Louisiana Coalition, urge candidates for state-level office to include early care and education as a priority in their platforms and, if elected, commit to supporting increased investment in early care and education so Louisiana children and families have the tools they need to succeed. We further urge voters to support candidates who prioritize this crucial issue.