The Community Foundation of North Louisiana (CFNLA) is embarking on the next phase of the Early Childhood Education Initiative. This comes after a successful 2021 campaign where $2 million in early childcare education scholarships were secured for children 0-3 in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.
Beginning in January of 2022, qualifying Caddo Parish children are beginning to receive full scholarships to attend partner Type III childcare centers. As of April 1, 2022, more than 50 children have received scholarships. CFNLA is now raising funds for the second round of scholarships to be awarded in 2023. The local dollars raised will again be leveraged to obtain matching funds through the State of Louisiana’s Early Childhood Education Fund. A third component of phase two is to expand the ECE initiative in Bossier Parish.
CFNLA prioritizes early childhood education for a multitude of reasons. First, 90% of brain development occurs before children reach the age of 5. A child’s experiences during the earliest years of life have a lasting impact on the brain and creates the foundation for school readiness. For years, Caddo Parish Schools has reported approximately 60% of children entering kindergarten are not academically prepared. Not only does high-quality early education help children gain the necessary academic skills, but it also provides them with the social and emotional skills to be successful in school and beyond.
Second, yet paramount to our economy, working parents need safe, reliable, and affordable childcare. A recent study found there to be an annual economic cost of $57 billion in lost earnings and productivity due to low-quality or nonexistent childcare. Locally, only 48% of low income three-year-olds in Caddo Parish and 28% in Bossier Parish have access to publicly funded early learning. There is less access for children ages 0 to 2.
Finally, research shows high-quality, birth-to-five early childhood education provides a return on investment (ROI) of 13%. An investment in early education—particularly among disadvantaged children—improves not only cognitive abilities, but also critical behavioral traits like sociability, motivation, and self-esteem. An investment in early education is an investment in the future of our community.