Connect with us

Economy

La. awarded nearly $8M to improve early childhood education

LOUISIANA WEEKLY — Research leaves no doubt about the magnitude of development in the first five years of life.

Published

on

By Kari Dequine Harden

Research leaves no doubt about the magnitude of development in the first five years of life.

Every second, one million new neuro connectors are formed in an infant’s brain, and about 90 to 95 percent of brain development occurs by the time a child enters kindergarten.

And all those aspects of early human development, from brain growth to the capacity for empathy, are affected by a child’s environment and experience, said Jen Roberts, executive director of the The New Orleans Early Education Network (NOEEN). Early childhood education is “one of the most important factors contributing to lifelong success.”

But it remains a persistent challenge for families to find affordable, high quality childcare.

“In recent years, Louisiana has worked diligently to create an integrated, efficient early childhood education system through policies that better serve our children and families,” State Superintendent John White said in a press release. “This award is a validation of the state’s approach and sets us up to take ambitious next steps.”

$7.1 million comes from a competitive federal Preschool Development Grant with an additional $800,000 from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The state must spend the money by the end of 2019.

The LDOE laid out four primary points in their spending plan:

1. Equip communities to make informed decision to improve local early care and education;

2. Incorporate family homes into the statewide network of early childhood education providers;

3. Enhance the quality of early childhood education provided to young learners; and

4. Improve systems that inform the statewide network of early childhood education providers.

Sub grants totaling more than $3.75 million will be awarded to early childhood education networks.

“This grant will touch all corners of the state, including those communities most in-need of quality care, through professional development opportunities for educators, additional classroom resources, etc.,” according to the LDOE. “Underserved communities, especially, will benefit from the work we have planned with family homes,” said Dunn. “These settings have not previously been able to access any state supports, which is critical for areas that lack formal child care.”

Comprised of all publicly funded early childhood care and education providers in Orleans Parish, New Orleans Early Education Network is the state’s lead agency and point of contact between the Louisiana Department of Education and individual providers.

Roberts said the biggest challenges she sees in New Orleans are access to quality care, workforce and talent, and resources.

“Quality is really expensive,” Roberts acknowledged.

In New Orleans, there are about 1,400 children under the age of 3 receiving a publicly funded seat, she said. But there are over 7,000 children under 3 in the city who qualify as low income, she said. Meaning only 16 percent of low-income children are being served.

Just seven percent of low-income infants are being served through publicly funded seats, 17 percent of one-year-olds, and 23 percent of 2-year-olds.

Statewide, Louisiana currently serves nearly all 4-year-old children, but only seven percent of in-need children birth to age 2, and 33 percent of in-need children age 3. An additional 3,130 children remain on a waiting list for services.

As the grant stipulates, it cannot be used to finance new slots, “The receipt of this Preschool Development Grant award allows the state to apply for future grant dollars to expand access to fully funded seats in early learning centers, a critical need for Louisiana children and families,” according to the LDOE.

New Orleans, Roberts said, “is making headway in the right direction.”

The City Council recently voted to double the budget’s funding for early childhood development, allocating $1.5 million for child care providers to enroll infants up to 3 years old into daycare and other programs, and funding Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s new Office of Youth and Families.

“New Orleans is one of the only metros in the country making a public investment in children from birth to 2,” Roberts said. “That is incredibly rare and extremely important.”

When children are prepared to enter kindergarten both socio-emotionally and academically, they are more likely to succeed and thrive in school and in life.

When they aren’t prepared with skills – including being able to regulate emotions, and persevering through challenges – there can be adverse affects down the line, Roberts said. With the funding the state hopes to “drive faster rates of improvement and equip more classrooms with fully prepared teachers.”

However, “Given that these funds cannot be used for seats, and given that we are only serving 15 percent of our children in need from birth through age three, we look forward to future opportunities to increase the publicly funded seats for our hard-working families who desperately need access to reliable, affordable, quality care for their young children,” said Melanie Bronfin, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children in the press release.

Underserved communities, according to the LDOE, “will benefit from the programs we will pilot to empower local leaders, who understand their unique communities, to identify their needs and support quality improvement.”

Roberts said she does hope the state will empower local communities to direct the money toward their greatest and unique needs, allowing “local folks to determine the use of funds based on what the community identifies as priorities.”

This article originally appeared in The Louisiana Weekly.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Bay Area

California Moving into Next Budget Year With a $31 Billion Surplus, Analysts Say

“Under our current law and policy approach, we estimate the general fund revenue will reach $202 billion in the budget year and result in a surplus of about $31 billion for that budget year,” said Gabriel Petek, legislative analyst of the State of California, referring to LAO’s projections for fiscal year 2022-23.

Published

on

California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.
California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.

By Tanu Henry, California Black Media

California is expected to move into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2022, with a whopping $31 billion surplus, according to estimates from the independent Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

The LAO announced the anticipated surplus during a news briefing last week.

“Under our current law and policy approach, we estimate the general fund revenue will reach $202 billion in the budget year and result in a surplus of about $31 billion for that budget year,” said Gabriel Petek, legislative analyst of the State of California, referring to LAO’s projections for fiscal year 2022-23.

Petek said the large surplus reflects a number of trends. Among them are surpluses in the state current operating budget, money left in the economic reserve from the last fiscal year, higher revenues than projected for the last two years, etc.

“Revenue collections have grown rapidly in recent months, coming in over $10 billion ahead of budget act expectations so far this year. Underlying this growth is a meteoric rise in several measures of economic activity,” LAO report reads.

That windfall in the state reserve could mean a rebate for taxpayers or more money for education and other public spending.

State spending is expected to reach a cap set by California voters through a ballot measure in 1979 called the Gann Limit. When that happens, the state is compelled to return money to taxpayers by lowering taxes, sending out rebates or spending money on education.

Salena Pryor, president of the California Black Small Business Association (BSBA) says she is encouraged by the investments the state has made to aid small businesses and to improve the overall economic outlook for Californians most impacted by the pandemic.

She hopes the state will use monies from the surplus to sustain some of its initial investments.

“There is still a lot more work to do. Forty-one percent of Black small businesses have closed permanently due to COVID-19, so further investments into start-ups and restarts would greatly benefit our community,” she said.

California has the strongest economy of any state in the country with an estimated Gross State Product of $3.0 trillion. If it were a country, California would be the fifth-largest economy in the world.

“California has no peers – continues to have no peers. We are world-beating in terms of our economic growth,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom, speaking at the California Economic Summit earlier this month.

“In the last five years, no western democracy has outperformed the state of California. The United States has not… Germany, Japan, the U.K… no other western democracy has outperformed this state in our economic output of 21% GDP over the last five years.”

Continue Reading

Activism

New California “Strike Force” Gives Teeth to State Housing Laws

California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that California’s 17 million renters spend a significant portion of their paychecks on rent, with an estimated 700,000 Californians at risk of eviction. High home purchase costs — the median price of a single-family home in California is more than $800,000 — have led to the lowest homeownership rates since the 1940s.

Published

on

The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.
The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

To advance housing access, affordability and equity, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced earlier this month the creation of a Housing Strike Force.

The team, housed within the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ) has been tasked with enforcing California housing laws that cities across the state have been evading or ignoring.

The strike force will conduct a series of roundtables across the state to educate and involve tenants and homeowners as the state puts pressure on municipalities failing to follow housing rules and falling short of housing production goals set by the state.

“California is facing a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportion,” Bonta said. “Every day, millions of Californians worry about keeping a roof over their heads, and there are too many across this state who lack housing altogether.

“This is a top priority and a fight we won’t back down from. As Attorney General, I am committed to using all the tools my office has available to advance Californians’ fundamental right to housing.”

The Housing Strike Force will take “an innovative and intersectional approach” to addressing the housing crisis, focusing on tenant protections, housing availability and environmental sustainability, housing affordability, and equitable and fair housing opportunity for tenants and owners.

Bonta also launched a Housing Portal on the Cal DOJ’s web site with resources and information for California homeowners and tenants.

The strike force will enlist the expertise of attorneys from the Cal DOJ’s Land Use and Conservation Section, the Consumer Protection Section, the Civil Rights Enforcement Section, and the Environment Section’s Bureau of Environmental Justice in its enforcement efforts.

“California has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to address its housing crisis, thanks to the historic $22 billion housing and homelessness investments in this year’s budget. But it’ll only work if local governments do their part to zone and permit new housing,” Governor Gavin Newsom said. “The attorney general’s emphasis on holding cities and counties accountable for fair housing, equity, and housing production is an important component to the state’s efforts to tackle the affordability crisis and create greater opportunities for all Californians to have an affordable place to call home.”

According to the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the level of Black ownership nationally has decreased below levels achieved during the decades when housing discrimination was legal.

The 2020 census reports that there was a 29.6% gap between homeownership rates for African Americans and whites. Homeowners accounted for 44.6% of the Black population as compared to 74.2% for whites.

“Blacks have made little, if any, strides at closing the homeownership gap. Systemic discriminatory regulations and policies continue to thwart any meaningful effort at increasing Black homeownership,” Lydia Pope, NAREB’s president, said.

In California, the DOJ reports that over the last four decades, housing needs have outpaced housing production. It has caused a crisis that stretches from homelessness to unaffordable homes.

Despite significant effort, the DOJ stated that California continues to host a disproportionate share of people experiencing homelessness in the United States, with an estimated 150,000 Californians sleeping in shelters, in their cars, or on the street.

Bonta said that California’s 17 million renters spend a significant portion of their paychecks on rent, with an estimated 700,000 Californians at risk of eviction. High home purchase costs — the median price of a single-family home in California is more than $800,000 — have led to the lowest homeownership rates since the 1940s.

Due to decades of systemic racism, these challenges have continuously and disproportionately impacted communities of color. For example, Bonta said, almost half of Black households in California spend more than 30% of their income on housing, compared with only a third of White families.

In addition, less than one in five Black California households could afford to purchase the $659,380 statewide median-priced home in 2020, compared to two in five white California households that could afford to purchase the same median-priced home, the California Association Realtors (CAR) said in a February 2021 statement.

The percentage of Black home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in 2020 was 19%, compared to 38% for white households, CAR stated.

“Just as the price for a single-median home reaches a new record of more than $800,000 in California, everywhere you look, we are in a housing crisis,” Bonta said during the virtual news conference on Nov. 3.

“Among all households, one in four renters pays more than half of their income on rent.”

The Housing Strike Force will address the shortage and affordability crisis by enforcing state housing and development laws in the attorney general’s independent capacity and on behalf of the DOJ’s client agencies.

Earlier this year, Newsom signed Assembly Bill (AB) 215, enhancing the attorney general’s concurrent role in enforcing state housing laws.

AB 215 was designed for reforms, facilitating housing development and combating the current housing crisis.

Newsom also signed Senate Bill (SB) 9 and SB 10 in September, legislation designed to help increase the supply of affordable housing and speed up the production of multi-family housing units statewide.

Authored by Senate President Pro Tem Sen. Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), SB 9 allows a homeowner to subdivide an existing single-family residential lot to create a duplex, triplex, or fourplex.

In response to SB 9, homeowner groups have formed across the state to oppose it. The groups are citing challenges they anticipate the law will bring to their communities, from garbage collection to increased risk of fires.

Livable California, a San Francisco-based non-profit that focuses on housing, is one of the groups that opposes the new laws.

“Senate Bill 9 ends single-family zoning to allow four homes where one now stands. It was signed by Gov. Newsom, backed by 73 of 120 legislators and praised by many media. Yet a respected pollster found 71% of California voters oppose SB 9,” the Livable California website reads.

“It opens 1.12 million homes in severe fire zones to unmanaged density — one-sixth of single-family homes in California,” the message continues. “SB 9 could reshape, in unwanted ways, hundreds of high-risk fire zones that sprawl across California’s urban and rural areas.”

But Newsom says the laws are urgent and overdue.

“The housing affordability crisis is undermining the California Dream for families across the state, and threatens our long-term growth and prosperity,” Newsom said in a Sept. 16 statement.

SB 10 was designed for jurisdictions that want to opt-in and up-zone urbanized areas close to transit, allowing up to 10 units per parcel without the oversight of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

“Passing strong housing laws is only the first step. To tackle our severe housing shortage, those laws must be consistently and vigorously enforced,” said California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), chair of the Senate Housing Committee. “I applaud Attorney General Bonta’s commitment to strong enforcement of California’s housing laws.”

The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to housing@doj.ca.gov. Information on legal aid in your area is available at https://lawhelpca.org.

Continue Reading

Barbara Lee

Infrastructure Bill Will Expand Internet Access, Boost Transit, Rep. Barbara Lee Says

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

Published

on

Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.
Rep. Barbara Lee with Meg-Anne Pryor, apprenticeship coordinator for Operating Engineers Local 3. Photo courtesy of Barbara Lee’s Press office.

By Post Staff

At a joint press conference on Wednesday, Bay Area Congresswomen Barbara Lee and Nancy Pelosi touted the impact the recently passed infrastructure bill will have on the Bay Area.

“For decades, underinvestment in our physical and social infrastructure has widened the economic gap, put communities at risk, and exacerbated racial and economic inequality,” Lee said. “And it’s not just a lack of investment. Too often, the infrastructure that we built created more inequality. This infrastructure law now advances equality, equity, and environmental justice unlike any law we have ever seen before.”

In regard to environmental justice, Lee points out that billions of dollars will be dedicated to building low-to-no emissions buses and expanding access to EV charging network. “These are critical investments for communities in my district that have suffered from higher levels of air pollution and childhood asthma rates,” she said.

The law will also provide internet access to low-income families across the state. “During the pandemic, we have seen that internet access is an equity issue for kids in East Oakland and other parts of my district, and we need to close that gap,” Lee said.

Besides their individual districts, the Congresswomen pointed out how much California as a whole will benefit from billions in investment to improve highways and bridges, public transportation, and water infrastructure.

“Also, it will help to protect communities like Oakland and Berkeley from another devastating wildfire like the one we experienced 30 years ago,” Lee said. “We are now moving full speed ahead to pass the rest of President Biden’s economic agenda through the Senate to significantly cut the costs of childcare, reduce childhood poverty, address the climate crisis, increase affordable housing, and make other meaningful investments in the quality of life of our families.”

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending