DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCES EARLY CHILDHOOD NETWORK PILOTS

Apr 15, 2013

Winning Proposals Will Shape Accountability, Enrollment, Training Policies

BATON ROUGE, La. –Today the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) and Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) named 13 applicants, representing 15 parishes, to participate in a pilot program as part of the implementation of the Early Childhood and Education Network (Act 3), passed in the 2012 Regular Legislative Session.  LDOE and DCFS originally planned to select five recipients for pilots; however, more than 20 applications were received, creating the opportunity to expand the pilot program. This pilot program invites school districts, child care providers, Head Start programs and other stakeholders within a community to work together to provide all children quality and equitable early childhood services, allowing policymakers to learn from their efforts prior to full implementation of the network in fall 2015.

“This level of interest from local communities indicates that the days of a fragmented early childhood system are over,” said State Superintendent John White. “Only 54 percent of our kids enter kindergarten ready to learn. We have a system that allows kids to fall through the cracks. By bringing all early childhood programs into one network, these communities are promising quality and equity for all families.”

Community Networks will put in place new common birth-to-five standards and assessments to ensure all programs provide high quality instruction and support all children to achieve kindergarten readiness. These common standards and assessments will provide the foundation for the new quality rating system and enable communities to better coordinate training, professional development and family engagement. Communities will be encouraged to innovate, and the state will seek to reduce barriers and red tape. Most importantly, as communities determine the best strategies for strengthening programs, they will seek to increase the number of children served by better coordinating funding, providing families with information about program quality and developing a unified application process. Not only will they strive to serve more birth-to-age-five children but will ensure that every at-risk four-year-old has access to high quality Pre-K by fall 2015. See below for parishes represented by the chosen pilot programs:

Parish

Coordinating Partner Agency

Ascension

Ascension Parish School Board

Caddo

Northwestern State University

Calcasieu

Calcasieu Parish School Board

Cameron

Cameron Parish School Board

Iberville

Iberville Parish School Board

Lafayette

Lafayette Parish School Board

Lincoln, Jackson, and Union Parish

Lincoln Parish School Board

Orleans

Agenda for Children

Ouachita

Children’s Coalition for Northeast

Pointe Coupee

Pointe Coupee Parish School Board

Rapides

Rapides Parish School Board

St. Tammany

St. Tammany Parish School Board

West Baton Rouge

West Baton Rouge  School Board

 
“For St. Tammany Parish to be selected as a pilot site makes us very proud of the long history of collaboration that Regina Coeli Head Start Centers have had in the community.  We are excited to work with the school district and child care partners to help shape the implementation of Act 3 in our community and across the state,” said Dr. Susan, G. Spring, Executive Director for the Regina Coeli Child Development Centers (RCCDC).

“The Lafayette Parish School System is very pleased to be among the early childhood pilots selected by the Louisiana Department of Education.  Developing quality, sustainable, and inclusive early childhood programs in each school district is the key not only to the future success of Louisiana’s education system but also to the quality of life of its future citizens.  We applaud the Department for the vision and the perseverance in taking the necessary steps to make these pilot programs a reality,” said Superintendent Pat Cooper, Lafayette Parish Schools.

These pilots, in conjunction with additional legislative changes proposed in Senate Bill 130 and Senate Bill 222 to create a Tiered Kindergarten Readiness Improvement System and align licensing requirements, will inform the transition, policies, and operations of the Early Childhood Care and Education Network as it launches statewide. Community Network Pilots are unique in that they require all early childhood programs that receive public funds to work together to improve care and education for all children in need under age five. While forward-thinking communities have developed strong relationships between schools, Head Start and child care, this marks the first time that the state has made such a significant investment in building and strengthening these local networks.

These communities, representing all areas of the state including rural and urban regions, have requested $2.6 million in direct funding to better coordinate services, help early childhood professionals improve, and make it easier for families to access high quality education and care. In addition the Department of Education, Department of Children and Family Services and the Department of Health and Hospitals will provide training and ongoing support. Pilots will officially launch on July 1; however, work will begin immediately to help communities get their networks up and running.

“We are delighted to have been selected to develop a community network pilot project in New Orleans. This is an exciting opportunity for the early education sector in the city and we look forward to working with our partners and childcare professionals in such an important endeavor,” said Dr. Anthony Recasner, CEO of Agenda for Children.

“On behalf of Fundamentals Early Learning Center in St. Tammany Parish, a private, for profit childcare center, I am delighted to hear our community network pilot proposal has been chosen. I am extremely hopeful that private childcare centers' seat at the table in this pilot will lead to an increased awareness of the uniqueness found in the needs of families served in the childcare setting, specifically infants and toddlers, which in turn become needs of childcare center programs. The comprehensive team of entities represented in the pilots should bring a level of collaboration among the stakeholders unlike any effort in recent history,” said Wyatt Graves, Owner of Fundamentals Early Learning Center and President of the Child Care Association of Louisiana.

"Our community is grateful for this opportunity provided by the Louisiana Department of Education.  Over 50 local organizations will leverage state funding to create a structure that provides early childhood education access for all Caddo Parish children.  The end result of this collective impact is that our students will be ready to learn and prepared for success when they enter school.  It's a great day for education in Caddo Parish," said Paula Hickman, Executive Director of The Community Foundation of North Louisiana.

For more information on early childhood education in Louisiana, please click here. For a presentation on the framework of the Early Child Care and Education Network, please click here.

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