A win for kids in New Orleans

A win for kids in New Orleans

An estimated 1,000 young children in New Orleans will have access to affordable, high quality early care and education services after Crescent City voters overwhelmingly agreed to raise property taxes to pay for new seats. The new tax millage is projected to raise $21 million a year to support programs for children 0 to 3, and was approved by a 61%-39% margin in an election marked by light turnout. The Times-Picayune’s Matt Sledge reports that money raised by the tax could be matched by state funding: 

The expanded program will be administered by the non-profit group Agenda for Children, with enrollment managed by NOLA Public Schools. There are 8,300 kids who would be eligible to apply for the program through a lottery because their families are economically disadvantaged, millage supporters said. Millage backers raised $319,000 for their campaign fund, Ready Kids New Orleans, through Monday.

Inflation hurts Black women
Women, especially Black women, make up the bulk of low-wage workers and perform a disproportionate amount of paid – and unpaid – caregiving work. While virtually all families have felt the effects of rising prices, those effects have fallen especially hard on Black women, who have disproportionately fewer options for cutting costs. Monica Beltran and Erin Currier explain in Every Child Thrives, a publication of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation: 

(I)nflation has not hit every family equally; women of color and those with young children are disproportionately likely to experience financial instability due to rising costs across the board. Consider this: Families with young children generally need a higher portion of protein-based calories to meet the nutritional demands of rapid physical growth and high activity levels and are more likely to consume larger per capita amounts of meat and dairy products. In addition, more than half of Black and Latinx households rent, making them vulnerable to inflation-related rising housing costs. Women of color are also overrepresented in occupations that pay low wages and offer few benefits, giving them minimal leeway between paychecks to absorb these rising costs.

Limit solitary confinement
Louisiana’s juvenile justice system fell under a harsh spotlight recently after a ProPublica investigation revealed that children at the Acadiana Center for Youth sometimes spent weeks at a time in solitary confinement. House Bill 746 by Rep. Royce Duplessis is a reform measure that would put limits on such isolation, which is used disproportionately on Black children, by limiting its duration and requiring the state to track when and how it is used. The bill passed unanimously out of a House committee and awaits action on the floor later this week. Reporters from ProPublica, the Marshall Project and NBC News explain why it’s necessary: 

Last year, legislators ordered an audit of the use of solitary confinement at youth lockups, after two teens died by suicide in isolation in the same week in 2019. That audit, released this week, found that the Office of Juvenile Justice routinely ignored its own policies on isolation, with 40% of confinements in 2019 and 2020 exceeding the maximum duration allowed at the time. The average duration of confinement was about six days, more than 14 times the national average as of October 2020. In one instance, a child was held in solitary confinement for three months straight.

Helping moms with addiction
Accidental overdoses were responsible for nine pregnancy-related deaths in
Louisiana in 2018, and in 2020 there were 330 infants admitted to hospitals
with opioid withdrawal symptoms. State Sen. Stewart Cathey proposed to address the problem with a bill that would have required mandatory drug-testing during labor and delivery. But Cathey shelved his legislation after advocates said it would discourage women with addiction disorders from seeking medical care. Jacqueline DeRobertis of The Advocate has more

During testimony over the bill, both proponents and opponents said there are not nearly enough resources for pregnant women battling addiction. … To help women in these circumstances, experts say reaching them during the pregnancy is ideal for both the mom and baby’s health. “When we are looking at finding opportunities to help moms who are suffering from the disease of substance use disorder and looking at that in labor, we are too late to produce overall substantive outcomes for moms in this situation,” said Frankie Robertson, who represents The March of Dimes. 

Programming note
The Louisiana Budget Project will be participating in GiveNOLA Day, which will be held on Tuesday, May 3rd. GiveNOLA Day is a 24-hour fundraising event hosted by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Your gift to LBP supports a dedicated staff of researchers, advocates and communicators who help drive real policy change at the state Capitol. With your help we can set a policy agenda in Baton Rouge that leads to a future of shared prosperity and widespread economic growth. Your support helps us fight for families who struggle to make ends meet, and make the case for real reforms. Please visit our donation page to give a one-time donation or set up recurring payments or mail a check to 619 Jefferson Hwy., Ste. 1-D Baton Rouge, LA 70806.

Number of the Day
2 – Margin of victory for former federal prosecutor Brad Myers in a Saturday runoff election to fill a vacancy on the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge (Source: The Advocate).