New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu signed a 2018 city budget amendment Monday that appropriates $750,000 for pre-K for low-income children in New Orleans.
Numerous studies show children with access to quality early childhood education have better outcomes later in life. But in recent years, lawmakers at the state level have slashed the number of publicly funded childcare spots by 70 percent. In New Orleans, just 20 percent of low-income kids under age four have access to publicly funded childcare. Landrieu says the new line-item in the city budget is meant to change that.
"This funding will put more 0-3 year olds in early education classrooms," he said at a signing ceremony. "It not only provides critical learning opportunities for our city’s children, but also lessens the burden on low-income families."
The budget sets aside $750,000 for low-income children, ages birth to three. The appropriation represents a tiny fraction of the city’s $680 million budget. But education advocates are calling it a good first step in meeting a large unmet demand for publicly funded early childcare.
"It's a drop in the bucket," Louisiana Policy Institute for Children director Melanie Bronfin said. "But it's an important drop in the bucket."
The city's appropriation could make it eligible to draw down some pre-K funds from the state. But state lawmakers have yet to appropriate the matching funds.