Insights > Letters: Path out of poverty runs through early childhood education (The Advocate)

Letters: Path out of poverty runs through early childhood education (The Advocate)


Over half (57%) of Louisiana children lived in financial hardship pre-pandemic — the HIGHEST rate in the nation — according to a new report from Louisiana United Ways, United For ALICE and Entergy Corp.

"ALICE in Focus: Children" shows we must be relentless in investing in children and families so every child has the resources they need to succeed.

While 26% of Louisiana children lived below the Federal Poverty Level in 2019, another 31% were growing up as ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). ALICE families earn above the FPL but not enough to afford a barebones household budget.

The report also reveals significant disparities for children by race: 76% of Black children and 66% of Hispanic children in our state were considered ALICE in 2019, compared to 42% of White children.

Traditional poverty measures significantly undercount the number of children living in financially insecure households. That matters because the FPL is used to determine eligibility for assistance programs, leaving many struggling ALICE families locked out of critical support for housing, food and education.

Access to early childhood education helps children develop the foundational skills needed to succeed in school and allows parents to work. Children with access to high-quality early childhood education are more likely to obtain more education and have higher lifetime earnings, and are less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.

Lawmakers have the chance to make meaningful investments to expand early childhood education access for low-income families this session. As members of the Ready Louisiana Coalition, we urge legislators to appropriate $94 million to these programs to support Louisiana’s children, families and economy.

"ALICE in Focus: Children" better informs our path toward equitable solutions for ALICE families. It’s time we take the necessary steps to ensure every Louisiana child thrives.

Patty Riddlebarger
vice president for corporate social responsibility, Entergy Corporation

Charmaine Caccioppi
executive vice president & COO, United Way of Southeast Louisiana


Letter to the editor originally published in the May 5, 2022, edition of The Baton Rouge Advocate.

Patty Riddlebarger
Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility