Guest column: Early child care funding is vital | Opinions and Editorials


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As this year comes to an end, Louisiana has something to be proud of. Our state has a record number of children from birth through age 4 who can access publicly funded child care programs. Their families are able to work knowing that their children are being cared for while they serve in important jobs, such as nursing assistants, cashiers, elementary school teachers, sanitation workers and construction laborers. I see the benefits that access to child care has for families every day in my work as the owner of several centers throughout the state.

However, this current public investment significantly decreases once Louisiana runs out of one-time federal stimulus dollars, which could lead to dire consequences. At least 15,000 children could lose access to high-quality early care and education programs. This may reverse the gains our state has made since the COVID-19 pandemic severely affected unemployment and workforce participation.

Without these funds, child care businesses like mine around the state may need to close their doors or turn away families who may not be able to afford the tuition. This could create a ripple effect, as lack of access to child care impacts workforce participation and productivity. We know that people have left and continue to leave the workforce because of child care. Research has found that employee absences and turnover due to child care issues that cost Louisiana employers $762 million per year, and child care issues result in a $1.3 billion loss annually for Louisiana’s economy.

If we want our children, families, businesses and economy to thrive, we need to make serious decisions about how we prioritize our financial resources.

When the state invests in quality early care and education, we don’t just care for and educate children. We allow parents to go to work knowing their children are safe and learning; provide meals to children who may not always have ready access to food at home; employ teachers in small businesses who give back to their communities; and support businesses, whose workers can focus on their jobs without worrying about their children.

Investing in us, the early care and education sector, will have an immediate positive benefit on our workforce, our businesses and our state’s economy.

Most importantly, it will help Louisiana children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn and be successful.

Tessa Holloway is owner of Kidz Karousel in Baton Rouge.

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