LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The Louisiana Department of Education announced today, June 19, 2019, that they have started the process of adding over 1,400 additional children to early learning programs across the state.
State officials say this trims the waiting list for the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), which provides financial assistance to low-income families for parents working in or with children attending school, to around 3,000.
The Department says that children from birth through the age of 3 will be prioritized because their age group is most in need of services.
This expenditure is expected to cost around $8.9 million while nearly $2.3 million will be used to support a federally-required increase in the amount of money that families currently receive in the program.
The additions are due to the recently approved increase in funding for early childhood education by the Louisiana legislature.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to provide affordable child care to more of the hard-working families who have patiently waited for this opportunity,” said state Superintendent John White. “But it is only a small portion of the amount of funding needed to help our most vulnerable children.”
According to the Department, of the roughly $20 million that is earmarked for childhood education, about $8.8 million will take the place of an expiring federal grant that provided pre-kindergarten services to 4-year-old children.
That allocation is expected to benefit more than 870 children and was approved by a Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education committee (BESE) today and will be voted on by the board tomorrow.
State officials say the need for access for children around the age of birth through age 3 was noted by the state’s Early Childhood Care and Education Commission in its “LA B to 3” funding plan. The plan, which was unanimously adopted in January 2019 by the commission outlined the need for an additional $86 million per year for 10 years.
“Significant research shows that for every $1 invested in high quality early care, the state yields a $7.30 return on investment. Children who participate in top-notch early learning programs are less likely to be retained a grade in school, dropout before high school graduation, or be engaged in the criminal justice system,” said BESE Member Tony Davis. “State leaders took an important first step during this year’s regular session. We must not stop here.”