Williamson’s Note: Bet on Louisiana Children


United Way of Southeast Louisiana is proud to join with the Ready Louisiana Coalition for the third annual Early Education Day at the Capitol on May 18 — an advocacy day to educate our state’s elected officials about local investments in early care and education (ECE) and share opportunities to increase the state’s ECE investment during the 2021 legislative session.

The child care sector, which already operated on razor-thin margins, is even more financially unstable than before the pandemic. Across Louisiana, many providers struggled to remain open, while others closed permanently or were forced to close temporarily and have struggled to reopen with increased costs related to a post-COVID environment. 

Although the Louisiana Department of Education received coronavirus relief funds to support the child care industry, the money may not be enough. According to our friends at the Louisiana Policy Institute’s most recent child care survey, the collective losses for child care providers totaled $245 million as of January 2021. 

To help child care centers keep their doors open during COVID-19, United Way and Loyola University New Orleans College of Law started the United for Early Care and Education program. To date, the program has welcomed 75 providers, managed over $3.6 million in forgivable loan funds, and helped participating centers achieve 100% loan forgiveness on First Draw PPP loans. Learn more here.

And the impact isn’t lost on working families with children either. 

Parents and caregivers need access to high-quality child care to set their children up for success, remain employed, and create generational wealth. Child Care Aware of America estimates that, nationwide, families without access to affordable child care lose a combined $28.9 billion in lifetime wages. 

United Way and our Ready LA partners are joined together in our ask to elected officials. Now, more than ever, Louisiana needs to:

  • Appropriate $86 million to expand access to quality early care and education programs;
  • Create a robust source of ongoing funding to the Louisiana Early Childhood Education Fund by committing all revenues from sporting betting, both in-person and online; and
  • Continue to use federal stimulus funds to stabilize the early care and education sector.

Even before the pandemic, less than 15% of eligible families with children under the age of four were able to receive any public funding to help secure access to quality early care and education. Now that fewer centers are open and many working families across the state have experienced lay-offs and reduced hours, a troubling question remains. How will families access child care?

Ready LA has the answer. As policymakers create the laws and regulations surrounding sports betting, we must bet on Louisiana’s children. Its our only path to the stronger, more equitable Louisiana all children and families deserve. 


Michael Williamson

Michael Williamson

President and CEO 

United Way of Southeast Louisiana