A new study by the LSU/Tulane Early Childhood Policy and Data Center finds that areas of north Louisiana are especially prone to poor early childhood outcomes based on economic, health and education factors. Parishes were measured for 11 risk factors. The study culled parish data on births to teen mothers, the unemployment rate, income, and infant mortality, among other factors.
LSU early childhood epidemiologist and one of the author's Lina Brou said said 86 percent of parishes scored high on at least one of the risk factors, and the risks mounted in some northern parishes, namely Bienville, Caddo, Claiborne and Webster.
"I was actually very surprised that north Louisiana -- specifically Caddo and Bossier parishes -- still had some room for improvement," Brou said. "I would have assumed that most of the risk indicators would fall in line with rural parishes and maybe the southern part of Louisiana. But it looks like for overall risk south Louisiana is doing a bit better than north Louisiana."
The study is designed to show early childhood risk factors at the parish-level alongside the programs available to offset those shortcomings. Brou hopes the data will be used by state and parish leaders to guide policy decisions and fund programs that benefit young children from birth to age 5.
"Hopefully, with this report, and showing all the gaps that there are, our local and community leaders can do something about it," Brou said.
The study is titled Early Childhood Risk and Reach in Louisiana.