Sep 12, 2013

Blueprint Document Updates Statewide Progress on Unifying Fragmented Early Learning System

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Department of Education (LDOE) today announced plans to add school districts to the Early Childhood Network Pilot program in the months to come, unifying child care, Head Start, and pre-kindergarten programs in partnerships across the state. The announcement came as the LDOE, the Department of Children and Family Services, and the Department of Health and Hospitals today released the Early Childhood Roadmap to 2015, an updated vision for unifying the state’s fragmented system of early childhood education. The roadmap details a path from 13 original network pilots to a full-scale statewide implementation of Act 3 of the 2012 legislative session, which creates a unified system of childhood care across the state.

Currently, 13 pilots in 15 parishes are operating early childhood networks. Each pilot network brings together child care centers, Head Start providers, and pre-kindergartens to promote high standards, to train teachers, to measure student learning, and to enroll parents. This early implementation will serve as the guidepost for the addition of new pilots in the coming months and ultimately, the completed statewide expansion in the fall of 2015. For a list of the current pilots, please click here.

“When only half of children enter kindergarten ready to learn, a new vision is required. Louisiana put forth that vision with the passage of Act 3 by the Legislature, and now we are seeing the results of what happens when individuals are empowered at the local level and work together for kids,” said State Superintendent John White.

"Early childhood education is a key component to improving the well-being of children today and establishing a strong foundation for their future,” said DCFS Secretary Suzy Sonnier. “Children who participate in these pilot programs and enter kindergarten ready to learn will also receive long-term benefits, including a greater likelihood of graduating from high school and successful participation in the workforce."

"Supporting Early Childhood education allows educators, caretakers and parents to identify areas where a child may need additional attention or an early intervention in order to succeed physically and mentally when he or she is ready for school,” said DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert.  “By working with our state, local and community partners, we can increase the overall readiness of children intellectually, developmentally and socially for kindergarten by addressing all of their needs before they start school.  This includes helping children achieve better health outcomes, which leads to better educational outcomes.”

In order to improve kindergarten readiness, the state will expand upon the original framework for implementing Act 3 by recognizing progress and building on success by:

  • Unifying Expectations. In the spring of 2013, Louisiana adopted early learning standards for all programs serving young children. Pilot networks adopt these standards and train teachers to use them.
  • Support Teachers and Providers. Pilot networks support teachers using the CLASS system that provides educators with the information to reflect on and improve their teaching practice.
  • Measure and Recognize Progress. Using Teaching Strategies Gold, a support tool that provides information on child development, educators will have a better understanding of progress in the classroom.
  • Fund High Quality Providers. Networks have committed to serving all at-risk four-year-olds in their area by 2015. Using the information gained from measuring and recognizing progress and a unified enrollment system, networks are able to identify these students and use financial information to plan for the number of seats necessary in every area.
  • Provide Clear Information and High-Quality Choices For Enrollment. To increase access to high-quality providers, local networks will operate an equitable common enrollment system. This type of system will provide information that is easy to access and comprehensive in addition to working to highlight high-quality options for all families.

“The opportunity to establish local networks of organizations that will work together to improve the quality of early care and education across the state is an invaluable resource for local communities.  This level of collaboration is unprecedented in the early childhood sector, so we are truly excited to have the chance to place all hands on deck for our children,” said Dr. Anthony “Tony” Rescasner, CEO of Agenda for Children.

Superintendent John White will be touring the state in the coming months to visit pilot networks; for a list of announced dates and locations, please click here. For more information on the implementation process and the vision, please click here, and to view the roadmap presentation, please click here

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