The COVID-19 crisis has dashed Louisiana’s economy, crippled many businesses, and disrupted the lives of every citizen of our state. It has also had a significant impact on all aspects of education. There are many things education and school leaders are doing to address the issues facing our students in this unprecedented time. CABL has outlined its priorities in early education, K-12 education, and postsecondary education. Today a look at child care and education opportunities for our youngest children.
Child care and early education are critical not just to the formation and development of our kids, but also to the reopening of the economy and getting people back to work. Much of our workforce is diminished if quality child care options are not available to working families. To that end, CABL has developed these priorities in early education.
- As the impacts of COVID-19 linger, we must ensure that child care centers are able to operate at a capacity that supports Phase I reopening of the economy, now that that is set to begin. These centers are critical to the reopening of businesses as workers will need quality settings for their children as they return to work. To ensure the child care sector is able to accommodate this need, the state should offer ongoing guidance to provide for the safety of child care staff and children, necessary PPE for all, and modified instruction options for early education teachers.
- Louisiana should continue to provide subsidies to assist low-income workers in placing their children in high-quality child care settings. In response to the COVID crisis, child care centers that remained open were required to enact a number of policies and procedures to protect children and staff. This increased the cost of providing the service and the state responded with additional funding through the CARES Act to subsidize children of essential workers to enroll in child care. Through the recovery period, these subsidies should be continued with consideration given to expanding them to include those looking for work.
- The child care sector is a critical component in the business recovery of the state and as such will require appropriate access to financial and technical support to meet the needs of a re-opening economy. Public schools and public pre-k programs have access to public funding which has helped keep them whole through the current crisis. To date that has not been cut. Child care for young children is primarily a private-sector initiative and as such has been severely impacted by the severe job losses across the economy. At the same time, it provides a service that is vital to the state’s economic recovery as working parents return to their jobs. Continued investment in early education and other public and private financial support is needed to ensure the return of the state’s workforce.
Tomorrow, K-12 education.