White slams budget for lack of early childhood education funds
Superintendent of Education John White slammed the governor’s budget for failing to include additional funding for early childhood education. He praised the budget’s inclusion of a teacher pay raise, and increases in education spending elsewhere, but says the pending expiration of a federal grant means Louisiana needs has to fill the impending funding gap.
“We have 3,300 families today sitting on a waitlist, and soon without those federal subsidies if they do not return this year, that number on the wait list will be 9,800.”
He noted only seven percent of infants and toddlers and only 30 percent of three-year-olds who qualify for childcare programs have gained access.
Early childhood education has seen a rise in interest as a national movement has brought the issue into the limelight. White says he’s disappointed that despite the program’s popularity, it didn’t make the cut for increased funding in the state’s largest ever proposed budget.
“In spite of all of the bi-partisan rhetoric supporting advances in early childhood education, in spite of the extremely palpable and tragic presence of a wait list, this budget does not include a dime.”
White says childcare assistance has dropped to 15,000 enrollees today from a high of 40,000.
The Superintendent says expanding childcare assistance benefits the most vulnerable, working-class families in the state.
“These are not families sitting at home, these are working moms and dads who are waiting to go to work, waiting to find a safe, educational place for their child.”