CFNLA issues a challenge to Bossier citizens: If Bossier citizens and businesses will donate $360,000 to provide scholarships to children ages 0-4 to attend high quality early learning centers, CFNLA will contribute $40,000 and will seek a dollar-for-dollar match from the state. This will provide $800,000 for early learning for Bossier children!
In the Fall of 2019, 60% of children entering school in Bossier Parish were not “kindergarten ready.” Research indicates that 90% of brain development occurs from birth to age 5. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, a child’s experiences during the earliest years of life have a lasting impact on the architecture of the developing brain. The Louisiana Childcare Assistance Program, or CCAP, provides financial assistance to low-income families (while parents are working or attending school) for high quality childcare. In the fall of 2019 in Bossier Parish there were 160 children enrolled while 40 children were on the waiting list. Children on the waiting list have been prequalified for the program but are unable to attend as CCAP funding has been exhausted.
In addition, according to the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, in Bossier Parish, 82% of low-income children have access to quality early child care. In comparison, only 28% of 3-year-olds have access, 5% of 2-year-olds have access and 3% of 1-year-olds have access. To encourage local fundraising, the Louisiana state Legislature created its Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match for local, private funds raised and spent on quality early child care. To leverage these matching dollars, CFNLA is raising money for Caddo and Bossier Parishes. Funds raised will be used to scholarship Bossier children ages 0 to 4 into quality early child care centers.
The effects of sending children to privately run early child care centers are far-reaching. First, early learning is crucial to the long-term academic success of children. Second, child care is essential to employees and the employers that count on them. Finally, by investing dollars in scholarships for children, we have a direct positive economic impact on the locally owned child care centers that lost an average of $110,000 last year. More tuition allows the centers to accept more children and hire more teachers. Thus, investing in young children results in economic recovery. To learn more or help Bossier Parish leverage state matching dollars, please visit: cfnla.org/ece/.