Second Annual Early Ed Month Focuses on Critical Needs for Investments in High-Quality Early Care and Education

NEW ORLEANS (press release) – Today marks the start of the second annual Early Ed Month, which is a month-long initiative to educate local and national policymakers, business leaders, parents, and advocates on the critical need for robust investments in high-quality early care and education to support a strong workforce and economy in Louisiana. 

Created by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), a nonprofit working to ensure all Louisiana’s young children are ready for success in school and life, Early Ed Month will consist of 12 in-person and virtual events across the state that provide opportunities to learn more about critical issues surrounding early care and education that impact children and families. 

In 2022, Governor John Bel Edwards proclaimed February as Early Education Month in Louisiana and named early childhood education as one of his top priorities. In total, over ​​400 people participated throughout Early Ed Month 2022 virtually and in-person. Organizers hope that this year’s participation far exceeds that number.

“In Louisiana, we want every young child to have the opportunity to thrive and their parents to be able to work or attend school knowing their child is learning in a healthy and safe environment,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Last year, we secured $84 million dollars for early childhood education programs. A truly historic investment that must continue. Our children are among our greatest assets, and it will take all of us working together to make sure they have the tools they need to succeed.”

In partnership with Louisiana Association of United WaysUnited Way of Southeast LouisianaUnited Way of Northwest LouisianaUnited Way of Southwest LouisianaCapital Area United WayUnited Way of AcadianaUnited Way of Central Louisiana, and United Way of Northeast Louisiana, LPIC will co-host regional tours of child care centers across the state in Southeast Louisiana, Northwest Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, the Capitol Region, Acadiana, Central Louisiana, Southwest Louisiana, and Northeast Louisiana to bring further awareness to ways families and child care providers are disproportionately impacted across regions and parishes. 

“Early Ed Month is a fantastic opportunity for people in our state to learn about this crucial issue,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of LPIC. “We’re excited for business leaders and policymakers to learn more about foundational education opportunities for our youngest learners and the incredible benefits early care and education offers to working parents, businesses, and our state as whole. Going into the upcoming legislative session, we want to ensure that Louisiana takes advantage of all opportunities to invest in expanding access to quality early care and education, increasing state investment, and creating opportunities for local governments to invest in early care and education.” 

Studies show that child care is often the most expensive item in a family’s budget and that some working parents face choices like borrowing money or forgoing necessities when trying to afford child care. Two-thirds of children birth to age four in Louisiana have both parents, or their single parent, in the workforce and as a result, need to spend a significant amount of time in child care. Local leaders have the opportunity to respond to the unique needs of children, families, businesses and educators in their communities by investing in early care and education. Investing in early care and education has an immediate positive benefit on Louisiana’s workforce, businesses and economy. 

“So many families with young children in Louisiana – especially single parents – are struggling just to survive, making the cost of quality child care out of reach,” said Charmaine Caccioppi, United Way of Southeast Louisiana executive vice president & COO. “We’ve made significant progress in securing state and local investments to expand access to early care and education, but the need is still great. Early Ed Month provides the opportunity to rally and call on government officials, business leaders, and our entire community to continue pushing for investments in our providers, children, and families.” 

The 2022 Parent Poll news conference will take place Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 10 a.m. where LPIC will release the results of the 2023 Parent Poll state-wide survey. In partnership with Agenda for Children, the Louisiana Department of Education and Women United of Southeast Louisiana, LPIC conducted this annual survey of Louisiana parents and guardians with children under age 5. The survey focused on the childcare arrangements of surveyed families, including their needs and experiences related to child care. 

Taking the conversation online, Early Education Month advocates will raise awareness and advocate for continued investment in early care and education with a Social Media Day of Action on Thursday, Feb. 16. To help shed light on child care in Louisiana, download the social media toolkit at policyinstitutela.org and use the hashtag, #LAEarlyEdMonth. 

The virtual Parent Advocacy Lunch & Learn will take place Thursday, Feb. 23, at noon. Co-hosted with the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, this hour-long training will teach parents how to communicate and engage with their elected officials at the state and local levels to advocate for issues concerning young children. 

Additional Early Education Month events include a Child Care & the Economy Business Breakfast Briefing co-hosted with Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI). This invitation only event will take place Friday, Feb. 24, and include a keynote address by Jack McBride, Founder and CEO of Contec Inc. McBride will discuss the importance of early child care and the impacts it has on the workforce and the economy.

“According to our most recent report on working families, approximately 618,363, or 57%, of Louisiana’s children live in households with working parents who are still struggling to make ends meet.” said Sarah Berthelot, President/CEO of Louisiana Association of United Ways. “29% of these struggling families are led by parents who are both working. So many of these families have young children in need of affordable access to high-quality child care to make it all work. Maintaining and growing equitable access to affordable, high-quality child care and education helps working parents while giving Louisiana’s children a safe and strong start on life.”

To register for Early Ed Month events and to learn more about how to get involved with supporting high-quality early care and education in Louisiana, visit policyinstitutela.org. Early Ed Month 2023 is sponsored by Entergy. Additional sponsors include Jones Walker LLP, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Committee of 100, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Geaux Far Louisiana, Cartel Strategies, Clara’s Little Lambs, Save the Children Action Network (SCAN), ResourceFull Consulting, Agenda for Children, Gambel Communications, For Providers by Providers, Pelican Partners, Urban League of Louisiana, Power Coalition For Equity and Justice, Emergent Method, Mele Printing, and Baptist Community Ministries (BCM).

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