Economic Well-Being in Louisiana
Louisiana’s future economic prosperity depends on connecting today’s children and their families to the opportunities that can help them thrive. Basic economic security-having enough food, stable, safe housing, and adequate healthcare-should be a given for every child in our state. When we connect kids to that kind of stability, we promote their healthy development, enabling them to reach their full potential.
Decades of brain research show that when kids experience economic instability and food insecurity, they can experience something called toxic stress, which can have lifelong implications on brain development and physical health. Put simply, toxic stress happens when children experience prolonged periods of stress that aren’t buffered by protective relationships. When this happens, children’s bodies and brains are flooded with stress hormones, such as cortisol, for extended periods, increasing their risk for developmental delays and even health problems as adults.
Louisiana has long struggled with some of the nation’s highest child poverty rates, but change is within our reach. Improving children’s economic well-being requires adopting an approach that empowers the adult caregivers in a child’s life to provide safe, stable relationships and meet their children’s basic material needs.
Strategies Louisiana Can Use to Improve Economic Well-being
Enact tax policies, such as a child tax credit and an expanded earned income tax credit, that are proven to reduce child poverty and increase family economic security.
Enact workforce policies that help parents enter and/or remain in the workforce, including paid leave, paid sick time, and expanded access to the Child Care Assistance program.
Raise the minimum wage, which would increase the household income for many of our lowest-income families.
Expand access to affordable housing in neighborhoods of opportunity by increasing public subsidies for affordable housing in areas close to jobs, high-performing schools, grocery stores, and other amenities and incentivizing housing developers to create more affordable housing in these areas.
Reduce barriers to accessing public supports, such as SNAP, WIC, Child Care Assistance, LaCHIP and, cash assistance (FITAP). Strategies to improve access can include simplifying application processes, offering multiple ways to apply, providing in-person and virtual application assistance, and utilizing flexibility allowed by federal regulations to expand the pool of eligible families.
- Roadmap to Improve Child Well-Being in Louisiana (Agenda)
- Paid Leave is the Foundation for a Stronger Louisiana (Agenda)
- The Case for Expanding Child Care Assistance to Job Seekers (Agenda)
- Parish Profiles
- Kids, Families, and COVID-19: Pandemic Pain Points and the Urgent Need to Respond (AECF)
- Children Living in High-Poverty, Low-Opportunity Neighborhoods (AECF)
- Opening Doors for Young Parents (AECF)
- Louisiana Needs a Strong Families Tax Credit (Louisiana Budget Project)
- Out of Reach: The Cost of Housing (National Low-income Housing Coalition)
- Why the U.S. Needs a $15 Minimum Wage (Economic Policy Institute)
Data on the Economic Well-being of Children and Families in Louisiana
The KIDS COUNT Data Center has a wealth of data on economic security at the state and parish levels. Learn more
State Level Partners Working to Improve Economic Well-being in Louisiana
Melanie Bronfin, a longtime member of Agenda’s Board of Advisors, founded the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, where she fought relentlessly to raise awareness of young children’s needs and the need to adequately fund early care and education. She galvanized businesses, nonprofits and centers to support high quality early care and education.