Create More Opportunity for All Kids


Early Childhood Education Counts

A child’s neighborhood or family income shouldn’t restrict their access to high-quality education and the same opportunities as other kids their age. 

Education is a fundamental right. 

All kids deserve access to a high-quality education. But sometimes that access is different depending on what neighborhood a child is from or how much money their family earns. 

For kids under the age of five, not having access could mean falling behind their classmates for their entire academic careers, leading to missed opportunities beyond high school and in the job market. 

When you support United Way, you help give our youngest community members access to the high-quality education they deserve. 

The Impact of Poverty on Kids

One in four children under age five in Louisiana is growing up in poverty.1

The stress of living in situations where adults are struggling to make ends meet takes a toll on kids. Children may experience food insecurity, a lack of safety, or other negative environmental influences. Research shows that kids from these environments can experience: 

  • lower brain activity2
  • increased challenges in social-emotional development
  • health problems 
  • developmental delays3
High Cost of Early Care and Education

Even when high-quality early care and education (ECE) is available, it may be financially out of reach for families with lower incomes. According to the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, the average cost of child care in Louisiana is almost as much as tuition at a four-year public university. Additionally, the cost of center-based child care has increased over 70% in the past two decades, making it the most expensive household budget item for a family. 

Why High-Quality Education Matters

Kids are born curious. Even as infants, they are taking in information, processing it, and learning from it. The right encouragement to learn from an early age is critical for kids. 

Multiple studies show that 90% of a child’s brain develops before they are five years old.4

That means in those formative years, children are making more neural connections and developing faster than at any other time in their lives.

How much can kids learn at such a young age? Some experts say that even when kids are playing, they are developing skills in language, executive functions, mathematics, and spatial language, scientific thinking, and social-emotional areas they will use as adults.5

Having adults – whether they be parents, caregivers, or teachers – who are informed and ready to engage with children helps prepare them for kindergarten and reach critical milestones in later grades. 

United Way’s Role

United Way of Southeast Louisiana supports giving access to high-quality childhood education to all children – especially those from under-resourced neighborhoods. We advocate to make early care and education more affordable, provide assistance to struggling child care centers, and fund programs that support the development of children. 

  • Technical and Legal Aid for Struggling Providers: In response to the child care crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched the United for Early Care and Education program to help quality child care centers keep their doors open. To date, the program has helped to preserve over 250 ECE jobs and prevent all 41 centers from shuttering permanently. 
  • Advocacy for Equitable Access: As a lead organizer of the Ready Louisiana Coalition, we helped secure the first new state investment in early childhood care and education in 10 years during the 2019 state legislative session. This legislative win allowed 1,450 children from low-income families to access subsidies for high-quality child care. We continue to fight to protect this funding and secure the millions of additional dollars needed to serve all children.
  • Support for Local Programs: From St. Tammany to New Orleans, United Way SELA directly funds early care and education programs that help children build the skills they need to thrive. 

Your generosity helps sustain programs like these and more. Help all kids get the strong start they deserve by donating to United Way of Southeast Louisiana.



1Kids Count Data Center
2University of East Anglia via Science Daily
3American Psychology Association
4National Center for Biotechnology Information
5The National Association for the Education of Young Children