ONLY ONLINE: LPCF issues policy recommendations

Staff reports

The Partnership commended Governor Bobby Jindal for his early childhood reform initiatives, and today released recommendations that the group says would strengthen the Governor's  measures.

"We applaud Governor Jindal for including early childhood, defined as birth through five years of age, in his education reform plan. Our organization wants to make it stronger," said Louisiana Partnership Board Member and Legislative Chair Sandra Adams. "As this new legislation is considered, the Partnership wants its recommendations to be heard."

    The Partnership policy recommendations tie directly to Governor Jindal's Education Reform Plan to "Create an Early Childhood System Focused on Kindergarten Readiness. "

    "As an organization, we are mindful of the many differences between the service and education needs of very young children versus those of  school age.  We believe that parents have many options for care of their young children and public subsidies should be available across those options in the same way that the Governor proposes for older children.  However, measuring the success of those programs cannot be done in the same way that is proposed for older children as it is difficult to test infants and toddlers," added Adams.

    One of the organization's most important recommendations, said Adams, is to empower BrightStart, the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, with assisting in the development of plans and recommendations for young children.  BrightStart includes public and private representatives who serve this population and have expertise that can be tapped without substantial public investment.  The Governor has supported the expansion of BrightStart in the last several years and much work has been done to create educational standards for young children. "The recommendations note that professional development is a key to improving services and this in another area where BrightStart is vested," she added.

        The Partnership notes that there are 40,000 publicly funded pre-k slots in Louisiana for the 62,000 four-year-olds in the state. By contrast, there are fewer than 20,000 publicly funded slots for the 188,000 infants and toddlers in Louisiana (children up to age 3). The Partnership says that 61 percent of Louisiana mothers with infants are in the labor force, and 49 percent of families with infants and toddlers are low income.

    The Partnership recommendations can be obtained from the website at lapartnership.org. ?