Louisiana Policy Institute for Children Releases Funding Toolkit
NEW ORLEANS (press release) — On Jan. 12, the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children announced the release of the Local Funding Toolkit for Strengthening Early Care and Education in Louisiana Communities. This toolkit is a resource designed to help localities in Louisiana understand potential funding strategies to strengthen early care and education systems in their communities.
“Early care and education investments in Louisiana are largely funded with federal and state dollars. However, local revenue streams offer an important means not just to expand early learning, but for community leaders to respond to the unique needs of children, families, businesses, and educators in their communities,” said Candace Weber, partnerships director, LPIC. “Local leaders have the ability to become powerful agents of change by investing in local early care and education systems, to support children, families, businesses, and the economy.
Each section of the toolkit provides background information and guidance to support communities that want to expand access to quality early care and education programs. In Louisiana, some of the current local strategies to expand early care and education include adding a line item to municipal or parish budgets for high-quality early care and education funding which are eligible for state matching dollars through the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund, which offers local entities in Louisiana a dollar-for-dollar match on investments; repurposing juvenile justice prevention funds for early care and education; levying a local property millage which is a tax rate that is approved by voters; and private investments where business communities can make investments through child care benefits or subsidies for their employees or through directly providing child care services.
In 2022, New Orleans became the first locality in the state to fund early childhood education directly with local revenue instead of state or federal revenue with a millage that passed in the spring. Voters approved a property tax measure aimed at creating 1,000 or more early childhood seats for economically-disadvantaged children via its City Seats program every year for 20 years. The millage, which will raise about $21 million in its first year, adds $50 annually on each $100,000 of property value above the $75,000 homestead exemption. Shreveport leveraged private investment and engaged with local business leaders and philanthropic organizations to fundraise $1 million to support expanded quality early care and education offerings to local residents.
“The majority of Americans see giving all children the opportunity for a strong start in life by increasing public investment in early childhood as a top priority,” said Olivia Allen, strategy director of the Children’s Funding Project. “Investing local funds in early care and education programs will give more children the support they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn and achieve positive long-term outcomes, while also strengthening our local economies.”