United Way Promotes Early Childhood Education

Local legislators and business leaders joined the United Way of Central Louisiana to highlight Louisiana Early Education month.  ABC News Joel Massey has more on the importance of supporting childcare providers for Louisiana’s working families.

Michelle Purl, CEO United Way of Cenla said, “Today was about celebrating early education.  We’ve had visits throughout the state this month with partnership with Louisiana policy institute and all of our United Ways to highlight the need for quality early education and the need for our state legislature to appropriate more funds towards it.”

Purl hosted a large group of legislators and business leaders at Foundations Christian Learning Center in Pineville to place a spotlight on the need to increase and improve access to early care and education for children.

“It’s very easy to think of early education as just babysitting and that all they do is play.  But as you’ve heard from numerous people today that brain development begins as early as 6 weeks and is pretty much completed before they start school.”

One of the legislators on hand was State Representative Mike Johnson.

“We know from what studies we’ve been provided and what we’ve seen is that the key to breaking the cycle of poverty is education and educating children early, teaching them to read teaching them their colors teaching them basic talents helps them once they get into grade school.”

The United Way and the other entities represented asked Louisiana legislators to appropriate $315 million to maintain childcare access for Louisiana families.

Johnson said, “My job is in the legislature to try to find funding and support for the effort and that’s something that we’ve been very much in favor of since I first got into the legislature.  Our governor’s a strong supporter so we expect to support them again this year.”

The legislators got to tour the learning center to see what success looks like.  They even took time to read some books to the children.

Rapides Early Childhood Director Cindy Rushing says funding is needed to provide families who can’t afford it with quality early childhood education.

“We know that those early years between birth and three and four are the most critical learning points of a child’s career and we need to give them that head start into getting those skills that they need we do that in a safe loving environment.”