How Louisiana Recognizes Early Care Educators’ Skills and Professionalism through a Year-End Tax Credit
Jodie Joseph-Evans, director of Clara's Little Lambs Preschool Academy in New Orleans, LA, contributed to this blog on the benefits of utilizing the tax credit available to child care educators.
As the director of Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy in New Orleans, LA, Jodie Joseph-Evans ensures families and staff are given quality care and education along with ongoing professional development. Jodie is a third-generation early educator, has been in the field for 11 years, and maintains a Child Development Associate Credential in Infants and Toddlers. Jodie is an advocate for increasing rates, quality, and education for those in the field of early care and education. She sat on a panel for the National Council of Jewish Women to discuss the importance of early care and education and helping families accomplish their goals and dreams and traveled to Baton Rouge, LA to meet with Governor John Bel Edwards to further the goal of finding more funding for the birth-to-three population of Louisiana. Jodie has three children of her own, two daughters, 11 and 1 years old, and a 7-year-old son.
At Clara’s Little Lambs Preschool Academy, our family-owned business for over 30 years, we recognize that our staff members are providing an enriched environment in which children’s social-emotional, cognitive, motor, and language and literacy skills are nurtured – and that they are professionals, not babysitters. One way we highlight this distinction is by is encouraging them to apply for the Louisiana School Readiness Tax Credit, which recognizes teachers, directors, and providers for their professional education and commitment to early care and education.
Requirements for Receiving the Tax Credit
The refundable tax credit is based on the educational level attained, as outlined in the Louisiana Pathways Child Care Career Development System. To qualify, child care educators must be enrolled in the system and have a minimum of 80 hours of instruction in approved core knowledge Child Development Associate (CDA) subject areas. In addition, they must have been working for at least six months, for a minimum of 30 hours per week, in a licensed child care facility that participates in the quality rating system. Currently, the tax credit ranges from $1,788 to $3,574, depending on the level of the teacher. The tax credit is also available to child care directors and owners.
The tax credit affords so many benefits; as preschool owners, it has allowed us, for example, to put some money away for emergencies, such as natural disasters like Hurricane Ida. For many of our staff, it can be life changing; it can help toward a down payment on a home or car or toward further education. It can also help with the cost of child care, which is expensive regardless of your income. For early educators who are paid a low hourly rate, that extra money at the end of the year is huge.
What More Can Louisiana Do?
Some teachers have been in early education for years and years, but they may work in place that hasn’t encouraged them to enroll in the Pathways system, or the opportunity to do so hasn’t presented itself for other reasons. The tax credit, unfortunately, is often one of those “best kept secrets.” It would be ideal if the state could find a way to ensure that all early education teachers know about it and pursue it. It’s an opportunity I’d like as many as people in our field as possible to know about. Another idea is to ensure more advertising from the state to child care facilities so that facilities are more aware of the tax credit and how to get their employees registered to receive it.
Also, while I think the tax credit is awesome as it is, it would be great if we could get more funding so that folks at the higher end of the career ladder could receive more than the current maximum of $3,574. At the very least, I’m hoping the state keeps upping the amount for us every year.
Advice to Other Centers
Just do it! It’s not difficult. All it requires is filling out verification forms for staff when they start and then filling out the tax credit form at the end of the year. Your center must participate in your state’s quality rating system, with your star rating determining if you can participate or not in the program. I think as many facilities as possible should try their best to become a tier three facility so that more early care and education professionals can apply for the tax credit. The children and families will benefit from teachers’ increasing level of education, and the teachers themselves will be rewarded for being the professionals that they are.
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