Oct 15, 2014

Community Engagement, Council Recommendations to Guide Unification of Fragmented Early Childhood System

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) today announced members selected to serve on the Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council. The council will advise BESE and the Department in implementing the landmark unification of the state’s early childhood systems as directed through Act 3 of the 2012 Regular Legislative Session. The Advisory Council will provide recommendations on policies related to all publicly-funded early child care and education programs including early learning centers, LA4 Programs, the Child Care and Development Fund Block Grant, the Child Care Assistance Program, Early Head Start, and Head Start programs.

The Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council is comprised of 17 voting members and 13 non-voting, ex-officio members as described in Act 868 of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session. Members selected to serve on the Advisory Council are:

Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council

Member Name

Non-Voting, Ex-Officio Members

Maria Blanco

Sen. Conrad Appel

Melanie Bronfin

Angele Ashley

Contessia Brooks

Capt. Stacey Barrett

Bonnie Buckelew

Rep. Regina Barrow

Dr. Jeanne Burns

Rep. Steve Carter

Gina Young Cahee

Carey Foy

Carole Elliot

Cindy Gonthier

James Evans

Linda Lambert

Lois Jordan

Albert Mancuso

Jodi Loar

Kim Matherne

Paula Polito

Brenda Sharp

Anthony Recasner

Kahree Wahid

Cindy Rushing

Amy Zapata

Dr. John Warner Smith

Roberta Vicari

Carynn Wiggins

Alan Young

“The members of this council will serve as a guiding force as we unify what has become a fragmented system of early childhood in our state,” said State Superintendent John White. “By listening to the concerns of the communities where these children live and reviewing critical policy proposals, the advisory council’s recommendations will help lead to a system providing greater access, greater equity, and greater child development.”

“The Head Start Association of Louisiana is excited to be a part of the Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council,” said James Evans, Head Start Association. “As a member of the Council, we can provide great insight into the world of Head Start and provide guidance to the Department and BESE to get Louisiana’s most at risk children ready for Kindergarten. All children in Louisiana deserve and must have a quality early childhood education in order to overcome barriers that would prevent them from becoming self-sufficient.”

“This Council is another giant step as Louisiana continues to build its new early care and education system.  It will provide an opportunity for the early childhood community and the public to have a voice as we move forward,” said Cindy Rushing, Early Childhood Coordinator for Rapides Parish Schools.

“Louisiana has poised itself for greatness with the recent efforts of the stakeholders in early childhood education. These collaborative efforts between the Department, Early Childhood Education Industry, Head Start and numerous advocacy groups will ensure that all children entering kindergarten ready to learn.  I feel privileged and honored to be chosen to serve on the new Advisory Council that will participate in providing a unified effort that we will ensure the success of the future generations of children in our state,” said Alan Young, Child Care Association of Louisiana.

As mandated through Act 868 of the 2014 Regular Legislative Session, the licensing authority for the state’s child care and Head Start centers transferred from the Department of Children and Family Services to the Department of Education on October 1. Since that time, the Department has worked closely with stakeholders to revise the existing health and safety regulations. The Department will host roundtables around the state prior to presenting the draft regulations to the new Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council that will convene this month. The Advisory council will meet a minimum of four times a year in Baton Rouge. In the upcoming year, the council will be asked to weigh in on critical policies including child care licensing, teacher preparation, funding equity, enrollment coordination, and a report card system for evaluating program quality. Below is an updated schedule, including community engagement, for the advisory council:



October 21, 2014

First meeting of Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council

  • Council will establish bylaws and discuss summary of proposed licensing and workforce policy changes
  • Department will share formal draft licensing regulations
  • Regulations submitted to Children’s Defense Fund, Louisiana Association for Education of Young Children, Louisiana Partnership for Children and Families, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children, Louisiana Head Start Association, Child Care Association of Louisiana and Nonpublic School Council

October 23, 2014

Launch of statewide roundtables and webinars

  • Department will go through revised regulations

Week of Oct. 27, 2014

Face-to-face roundtables in north, central, and south Louisiana

October 29, 2014

Formal draft of early childhood credentialing policy changes made public

  • Proposed policies submitted to Advisory Council in advance of November meeting

November 5, 2014

Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council meeting

  • Council will review and provide recommendations on licensing regulations and early childhood teaching credentialing policies

For more information on the Early Childhood Care and Education Network, please click here.

For more information on Child Care and Development Fund Licensing, please click here.

For more information on the members of the Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council, please click here.

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