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$2 Million Raised For Early Childhood Education In Caddo Parish

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Courtesy: CFNLA

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION – Many parents of pre-kindergarten children can’t take their kids to a qualified daycare center either because of income levels or a lack of  openings  at  daycare  centers  a community has to offer.  And Education experts say young children who don’t have access to early education  resources  at qualified  daycare centers often perform poorly  academically as they get older.

"About 60% of both the children in Caddo and Bossier parishes are not kindergarten ready," says Kristina Gustavson is the Chief Executive Officer for the Community Foundation of North Louisiana.  It’s website describes  itself as an organization that promotes  philanthropy  by bringing  people  and resources  together  to  solve problems  and  enhance  the  community.  A couple years ago  she attended  a  Northwest Louisiana Childhood  Summit   that  put  a focus  on   the importance of early childhood education.

"About 60% of both the children in Caddo and Bossier parishes are not kindergarten ready," says Kristina Gustavson, CEO - Community Foundation of North Louisiana

"There's a large study done ,  I believe it was in Philadelphia,  that shows that students who are not kindergarten ready have a much higher percentage of not being ready for 3rd grade reading, not being ready for 3rd grade math and so on and so it affects their ability to graduate from high school and ultimately to obtain a living-wage job,"  Gustavson explained.

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Credit Courtesy: CFNLA

Louisiana has a Childcare Assistance Program to help lower income families pay for qualified  childcare centers  but it only goes so far which means there’s a waiting list. 

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Credit Courtesy: CFNLA
Kristina Gustavson, CEO, Community Foundation of North Louisiana

"In 2019 there were 188 students on the wait list for CCAP positions at type 3 centers and the reason they were on the wait list was there wasn't enough funding," Gustavson said.

So the Community Foundation of North Louisiana set a goal of raising a million dollars to pay for early childhood education AND at roughly the same time – the Louisiana Legislature started an early childhood fund that would match the dollars raised at the local level.

"So we will have $2 million for scholarship for low-income students to attend early childcare centers, so basically a million dollars raised and a million dollars gained from the state is where we are and we're thrilled about it,"  Gustavson said.

Gustavson says $2 million dollars will fund an additional  200  children to attend a Type 3 Early Childhood Daycare center in Caddo Parish for thel 2021-22 school year and she has already been speaking with Bossier School officials about early childhood education extension in that parish.   If you’d like more information about sending a child to a Type 3 Early Childhood Center in Caddo Parish—contact the Caddo Parish School System’s Smart-Start program for Details.  The Community Foundation of North Louisiana is a supporter of Red River Radio.