Women United Members enjoyed a rich and inspiring day at the state Capitol in Baton Rouge on Monday, March 26th. To kick things off, Melanie Bronfin, Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, led a Press Conference to discuss an urgent issue for our state, early childhood education. While 90% of brain development occurs within the first four years of life, less than 1% of Louisiana's state funding is allocated to support these critical programming. Investment in children in this phase of life deeply benefits our communities as a whole. So it was heartening to see bipartisan support for this cause across multiple sectors - from governmental to nonprofit to private.
During lunch, which was graced by Governor John Bel Edwards, we were familiarized with current initiatives that support early education in Louisiana: State Representative Carter's House Bill 513 would allocate $10 million to the Child Care Assistance Program, while State Representative Hilferty's House Bill 676 champions a long-term strategy for addressing these issues.
It was inspiring to learn about these pending changes for the better --and all the more so when I realized how involved any citizen can be in the legislative process. During our free period, I sat in on a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting where I was surprised, but pleased, to discover how receptive the legislators are to constituent input.
It was also a treat to convene with members from five Louisiana Women United chapters: about 40 members took turns hosting informational tables and distributing literature in the Rotunda.
The day wrapped up with a reading of the Women United Day Resolution. In addition to making our visions known to everyone on the House Floor, this conclusion made me proud of the positive role Women United has in shaping Louisiana state policy: we really do make a difference.
Incoming Board Chair, Women United