A report from New America profiles Louisiana’s bipartisan efforts to transform early learning in the state. In 2012, Louisiana passed the Early Childhood Education Act, which provided a holistic approach to creating a statewide, integrated early-learning care and education network for children from birth through age 5.
A major part of the reform was Louisiana’s implementation of the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS). The program was already used in Head Start classrooms and offered the state a way to measure and improve interactions between adults and children. CLASS measures the quality of interactions between adults and young children in three domains: emotional support, classroom organization, and instructional support. This system allowed the state to differentiate programs while mapping out strategies for improvement.
The state also leveraged an innovative use of tax credits to support both children and the early learning workforce. The state’s School Readiness Tax Credits are given to early learning workers, parents, and businesses, as a way to offset costs and often-low pay. There are also specifically-targeted tax credits for families to increase access to high-quality early learning and care. Those tax credits provide incentives for families to choose highly rated learning environments, while ensuring that providers have adequate resources to support the children they care for.
Finally, Louisiana has used federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funds for quality improvements. This investment helps ensure children from low-income families are receiving quality care in lieu of any type of care. Having access to high-quality early learning is vital for children’s development and school readiness.
Together, these reforms have created a more consistent high-quality early learning experience for children in the state between birth and age five.
You can read the full report here.