Advocating for Early Care and Education: Louisiana must act on the critical issue of the child care crisis and threats to women’s workforce gains  

Collaborating and convening is the cornerstone of many successful projects at UWSELA. On Wednesday, UWSELA, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Agenda for Children and partners hosted the Early Care and Education Advocacy Forum to address Louisiana’s childcare crisis and examine its far-reaching impacts on women's workforce participation, economic stability, and early childhood development. The agenda examined these issues and how they impact early childcare education at the local, state, and federal levels. Ron McClain, Executive Director of the Institute of Mental Hygiene and our UWSELA Public Policy Chair, spearheaded the forum with an expert panel of providers, advocates, and business leaders who discussed the urgent need for comprehensive solutions to the crisis. Ron and I extend a big thank you to this impressive group for sharing their voice in the early childcare space.  

  • Keith Liederman, CEO of Clover - in his stead was Yolanda Motley, Program Office for Early Learning Services at Clover
  • Patty Riddlebarger, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Entergy Corporation  
  • Bill Hammack, Partner at Link Restaurant Group  
  • Libbie Sonnier, Executive Director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children 
  • Ashley Shelton, Founder, President and CEO of the Power Coalition for Equity & Justice 
  • Mattilyn Karst Batson, Director of Early Childhood Systems at Louisiana Office of the Governor 
  • Councilmember-at-Large Scott Walker, Jefferson Parish 
  • Sarintha Stricklin, Executive Director of Jefferson Ready Start Network  
  • Paula Polito, Member of Jefferson Ready Start Network and Owner of Beary Cherry Tree Child Care 
  • Jen Roberts, CEO of Agenda for Children 
  • Congressman Troy A. Carter, Sr., U.S. House of Representatives - in his stead was Demetric Mercadel, District Director, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Cathy McRae, Chair of Women United Global Leadership Council 
  • Todd Battiste, Sr. Vice President of Education and Youth Initiatives at UWSELA  


Why Support Early Child Care and Education?   

The research is abundantly clear that everyone benefits from high-quality preschool education. Children who receive high quality child care have increased high school graduation rates, greater academic success and higher lifetime earnings along with a decrease in violent crime and involvement with the justice system. The economic returns for taxpayers are significant due to the decreased need for welfare assistance, reduced unemployment claims, improved health and increased income tax payments to name a few. One dollar invested in preschool education returns more than $9 to the nation.   

In Louisiana, over 114,000 children do not have access to high-quality childcare. This is a staggering statistic given the economic impacts. Annually, the state economy loses an estimated $1.3 billion due to employee absences and turnover due to child care issues. We know women are leaving the workforce due to the affordability of childcare as well as the quality of the education. Infant care in a center can cost over $8,700 a year which is unaffordable for many of our ALICE families.   

Even with the strides that have been made, funding at the federal, state and local levels along with private donations continue to fall woefully short of the actual cost of educating a preschooler. I do believe we are making great progress in Louisiana, but so much more needs to be done. At UWSELA, our team recently welcomed back, Todd Battiste, to spearhead our youth and education initiatives. Todd reminds us that the “children of this City, State and country are our responsibility and your elected officials need to and appreciate hearing from you.” UWSELA continues to prioritize early child care and we urge you to advocate with us for equitable solutions for all families in Louisiana.  We invite you to  check out the event photos and watch the forum.    


Live United,   


Charmaine Caccioppi  

Executive Vice President & COO of UWSELA