Thursday, December 8, 2022

Legislature approves budget with $84 million going to early childhood education

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MONROE, La. (KNOE) – The Louisiana Legislature approved several budget bills on May 19. They will head to Governor John Bel Edwards’ desk for his signature.

The budget includes an $84 million investment in early childhood education.

“This is a historic downpayment and investment in Louisiana’s young children,” explained Libbie Sonnier, the Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children.

Forty million dollars will go to the Early Childhood Education Fund, encouraging local municipalities to invest in pre-K seats.

“Let’s say they had $100,000 that they wanted to invest in early childhood seats in a quality childcare center,” Sonnier told KNOE. “When they do that, that makes them eligible for this early childhood education fund, and they can draw down an additional $100,000.”

The budget also includes $25 million for the Child Care Assistance Program, which helps low-income parents working or going to school with child care.

“It’s basically a voucher to go to a quality-rated childcare center in the state,” said Sonnier.

Sonnier added that more kids in pre-K improves learning outcomes and can help the economy.

“Childcare breakdowns cost our economy $1.3 billion annually,” explained Sonnier. “What we also know is it costs our Louisiana businesses $762 million in childcare breakdowns. So it’s small potatoes when we don’t have an adequate and sufficient, quality early childcare system.”

Also included in the annual budget is a $1500 raise for teachers and $750 for support staff.

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