17 Louisiana Police Chiefs and Sheriffs say supporting efforts by Louisiana Policy Institute for Children
17 Louisiana Police Chiefs and Sheriffs say Louisiana decision-makers must return funding for quality early child care programs as a priority if state to combat crime
Seventeen Louisiana members of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nationwide, bipartisan, non-profit organization of more than 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and violence survivors are supporting efforts by the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children to return state funding for quality early child care programs to a position of priority. “We are committed to research-based solutions that prevent crime. Research confirms that high-quality early care and education programs can decrease the chances a kid will become involved in crime later in life,” the joint statement says above the signature of Sheriffs from Lafourche, Rapides and St. Charles Parishes, and the Police Chiefs from Baker, Benton, Campti, Morgan City, Grambling, Heflin, Hodge, Kentwood, Lake Charles, and Westlake. The District Attorney of Orleans, university security heads, as well as the Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police also signed the statement.
The Louisiana Policy Institute, along with LSU, Loyola University and Entergy, recently released a report titled Losing Ground which shows how the lack of quality affordable early child care for children aged 0 to 4 are disadvantaging employers and employees in the state, to the tune of more than $1 billion a year.
But the statement by the crime fighters add that the cost is even greater than economics.
“We know, through research and our own front line experience, that the way children start their lives has a direct bearing on their development as productive citizens. This development starts at the earliest stages of a child’s life; in fact, the majority of a child’s brain development occurs before they enter kindergarten. In those early years, brain development is very rapid, building a foundation for all later learning,” the statement reads.
“Unfortunately, our state funding for early care and education for children under age 4 has been cut by almost 70% over the last eight years. This leaves far too many low-income children in our state with no access to childcare. The lack of access to early care and education is not only detrimental to the development of the future workforce of our state; it is also public safety concern. Kids who can’t function in school are more likely to drop out, which make it much more likely that they end up in our squad cars, courtrooms, and jails, as seven out of 10 state prisoners nationwide lack a high school diploma.
“As leaders of departments and agencies, we certainly understand the challenges to balance our state’s budget, but we should invest in solutions that can prevent crime in the first place.”
Melanie Bronfin, Director of LPIC, said the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Governor and Legislators continue to support the successful School Readiness Tax Credit Programs which help about 14,000 families access quality early child care and improve the services at such centers, which is important. But the need in the state for working parents is so much greater.
“Unfortunately, this issue continues to be underdressed by the State and the loss of $65 million in state funding for the Child Care Assistance Program during the past 8 years remains. Therefore the voices of these crimefighters add urgency to the voices of so many working moms and dads, as well as their employers, to return this issue to a priority in Louisiana. Our children are the ones who are disadvantaged,” said Ms. Bronfin.
More information, including the report Losing Ground, is available at policyinstitutelouisiana.org, as well as the full letter by the crimefighters.