Local Business Leaders, Legislators Join United Way of Southeast Louisiana to Mark Louisiana Early Ed Week

Louisiana Early Ed Week is February 11-15

NEW ORLEANS - Business leaders and legislators from across the area joined the United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA), Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Jefferson Business Council at an event today in honor of Louisiana Early Ed Week.

The event is one of several other events across Louisiana from February 11-15 hosted in partnership by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children and United Ways across Louisiana to highlight the need to increase access to high-quality early care and education for Louisiana’s children and families.

“Our mission is to help our families achieve their potential and live healthy, financially stable lives,” said Michael Williamson, UWSELA President and CEO. “We believe that must begin with access to affordable, high-quality early care and education.  It is impossible to overstate the importance of early education for our children today.  It sets the child up for a successful education and career while allowing working parents to do just that- work.”

The local leaders gathered at Beary Cherry Tree on Lake Villa Drive in Metairie to see firsthand what high-quality early education looks like and gain a greater understanding about the importance of providing access to high-quality early care and education for children birth through age four across the region and state.

“As a community and society, there is a compelling moral argument to provide access to early education for our families,” said Todd Murphy, President of the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “Yet here is an overwhelming economic argument to make in support of it as well. More than 40 percent of Louisiana children enter kindergarten already behind– and children who begin school behind generally remain behind. Early education is a great equalizer, shown to reduce K-12 education costs, reduce incarceration rates, and increase graduation rates. These benefits are estimated to reach up to a ten percent return on investment per year. That’s a remarkable ROI.”

A recent study, Losing Ground: How Child Care Impacts Louisiana's Workforce Productivity and the State Economy, found that child-care issues result in a $1.1 billion loss for the Louisiana economy, costing businesses $816 million a year and the state $84 million in tax revenue. 

“You look at the numbers and it’s obvious that we are missing out on a great opportunity by not fully funding early care and education,” said Tony Ligi, Executive Director of the Jefferson Business Council. “This is literally a billion-dollar economic issue right now. But being here and seeing the kids and amazing work they’re doing really brings home the fact that this isn’t just about dollars and cents. This is about our children’s future, and whether we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure the door to opportunity is open for them. That’s what early education can do, and I’m honored to be here today to support this work.”

“Ninety percent of brain development takes place between birth and age four, but less than 15 percent of eligible children under age four have access to any publicly funded early care in our state,” said Melanie Bronfin, Executive Director, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. "The repercussions of this are felt all the way through our K-12 education system, to our criminal justice system, and even have a significant impact on businesses and our state’s economy.”

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About the United Way of Southeast Louisiana
For more than 90 years, United Way of Southeast Louisiana has been a leader and trusted partner in improving lives and making a lasting difference. We fight to eradicate poverty by preparing people for quality jobs, growing incomes, and affording better health and education opportunities throughout Jefferson, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and Washington parishes. We have a bold vision of equitable communities where all individuals are healthy, educated, and financially stable - and we have a plan. United Way of Southeast Louisiana's Blueprint for Prosperity guides all strategic investments in programs, initiatives, collaborations, volunteerism, and advocacy aimed at tackling poverty. For more information, please visit UnitedWaySELA.org. Find us on social: @UnitedWaySELA. 

About the Jefferson Chamber
The Jefferson Chamber is a leading voice for Jefferson Parish’s business community. As a non-profit, membership-driven organization, the Chamber is an effective advocate for small and large businesses at the local, state and federal levels. The Chamber’s mission is to work for the advancement of the business community; to enhance the economic, civic and cultural environment; and to improve the quality of life in Jefferson Parish. The Jefferson Chamber is Five-Star Accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the 2013 and 2015 Chamber of the Year Award by the Louisiana Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in the Large Chamber Category.

For more information about the Jefferson Chamber, visit www.jeffersonchamber.org, and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About the Jefferson Business Council
The Jefferson Business Council (JBC) is comprised of Jefferson Parish’s most influential and civic minded business leaders.  Members include distinguished small business owners and the chief executive officers of the parish’s largest employers which collectively have a tremendous impact on the parish’s economic health and quality of life.  The organization was founded in 1992. It’s mission it to encourage, promote and enhance the economic posture, social welfare and environment of Jefferson Parish and the River Region.  For more information visit www.jeffersonbusinesscouncil.com

About the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
The mission of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC) is to advance policies to ensure that Louisiana's young children are ready for success in school and in life. LPIC is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that serves as an independent source of data, research, and pertinent information for policy makers, stakeholders and the public at large around issues related to young children in Louisiana. LPIC develops policy proposals informed by research, best practices and the experiences of other states and conducts educational and outreach activities around these recommended policy solutions.