Louisianians favor more spending for early childcare and are getting more money for early childcare

By: - April 14, 2021 2:02 pm

The $1.75 trillion spending plan includes $400 billion to pay for a new, six-year program to guarantee free preschool for 3- and-4-year-olds. The proposal also would limit child care costs to no more than 7% of income for families earning up to 250% of a state’s median income.(Stock photo by Shutterstock)

The majority of Louisianians support more spending for early childcare, even if it means paying more in taxes, according to the fifth of five reports of the 2021 Louisiana Survey released Tuesday by LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab.

Researchers in the Public Policy Research Lab at LSU Manship School of Mass Communication’s Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs polled 781 adults from across the state to find out how Louisiana residents view their government and its policies. The survey was conducted from Jan. 4 to March 1, and the total sample has a 6.4 percent margin of error.

Seventy-six percent of Louisianians support increasing state spending on childcare for infants and toddlers from low-income families, according to the survey, and 53 percent support raising taxes to pay for increased spending on childcare for all families, regardless of income.

The report reveals the public has the following views on early childhood education:

  • A majority of Louisiana residents support more spending for childcare, regardless of whether the program is universal or targeted to low-income families. Seventy-five percent support such spending for 3-4 year-olds from low-income families and 67 percent support extra money for 3- and 4-year-olds from all families.
  • Likewise, a majority of state residents back more spending on universal and means-tested early childhood education. Seventy-one percent support increasing state spending on early childhood education for infants and toddlers from low-income families, and 73 percent for all families, regardless of income.
  • There is also majority support for raising taxes to pay for spending on early childhood education and childcare programs. Fifty-three percent support raising taxes to increase spending on childcare for all families, regardless of income. Fifty-eight percent support raising taxes to increase spending on early childhood education for low-income families. 

This is encouraging data and speaks to the fact that Louisianians understand that quality early care and education prepares children for success in school and life,” said State Superintendent Cade Brumley in a Wednesday statement to the Illuminator. “Investing in quality early education experiences will better our children, our families and our state.”

During Monday evening’s “State of the State” address, Gov. John Bel Edwards said additional funding in Early Childhood Education will be one of his budget priorities this legislative session. “I know that many legislators share this goal,” he said.

Money from the federal government will also have an immediate impact. Louisiana received $193,255,990 for childcare relief from the December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill, and $773,153,348 from last month’s American Rescue Plan Act, Ted Beasley, a spokesperson for the Louisiana Department of Education said. 

Approximately $297,435,357 of the American Rescue Plan Act funding will go to Expanded Child Care Assistance and the other $475,717,991 will go to Child Care Stabilization Funds (grants to child care), Beasley said.

The first report from the Louisiana Survey found that residents are most concerned with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy, even though more than two-thirds of those surveyed said they were doing financially as well or better than they were a year ago.

The second report found that a third of Louisiana residents have no intention of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

The third report found that residents have little stomach for budget cuts in six specific policy areas: elementary and secondary education; higher education; health care; roads, bridges, and highways; prisons and incarceration; and welfare, food stamps and other public assistance programs. While a majority of respondents said they do not want to reduce spending in any of these areas, they only supported tax increases for elementary and secondary education. 

The fourth report found that most Louisiana residents believe police treat Black people worse than they treat White people, and an overwhelming majority approve of the state’s 2016 expansion of Medicaid and last year’s expansion of unemployment benefits.

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JC Canicosa
JC Canicosa

JC Canicosa is a former Louisiana Illuminator reporter. Prior to working with the Illuminator, Canicosa worked for Investigate-TV and The Loyola Maroon. Canicosa earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Loyola University New Orleans. At Loyola, he was the senior staff writer at The Maroon and the president of the school's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Off the clock, Canicosa enjoys playing basketball, watching movies and dabbling in comedy writing.