Nov 18, 2014

Community, City, and Parish School Systems Join with Child Care and Head Start ahead of Fall Deadline

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education today announced that all remaining school districts, along with child care and Head Start partners, submitted applications to participate in cohort 3 of the Early Childhood Care and Education Network, meaning 100 percent of the state’s school districts have sought to unify their early childhood systems ahead of the fall 2015 deadline. Applications from the final 36 districts will be reviewed for funding over the next two months and will receive notice as to grant awards in January.  Thirty-four school systems and partners are part of cohort 1 or cohort 2.

Starting in January, cohort 3 Network Pilots will establish a local leadership structure, count all their at-risk children, and train and coach teachers to use new tools. By fall 2015, they and their peers in other cohorts will be expected to have a system for providing consistent and meaningful feedback to teachers, begin coordinating enrollment to increase access for families and working together to increase the number of at-risk children served.

Districts/Communities Applying for Cohort 3

Acadia Parish

LaSalle Parish

Assumption Parish

Livingston Parish

Avoyelles Parish

Madison Parish

Beauregard Parish

Natchitoches Parish

Bogalusa City Schools

Plaquemines Parish

Caldwell Parish

Red River Parish

Catahoula Parish

Richland Parish

Central Community Schools

St. Bernard Parish

Claiborne Parish

St. Helena Parish

Concordia Parish

St. Landry Parish

DeSoto Parish

St. Mary Parish

East Carroll Parish

Tensas Parish

East Feliciana Parish

Terrebonne Parish

Evangeline Parish

Vermilion Parish

Franklin Parish

West Carroll Parish

Grant Parish

Washington Parish

Iberia Parish

Webster Parish

Lafourche Parish

Zachary Community Schools

“By having all districts and communities apply to be part of the network ahead of next fall, we can now move more quickly toward our shared goal of unifying the fragmented early childcare system,” said State Superintendent John White. “We have a system that allows too many children to fall through the cracks. Only 54 percent of our children enter kindergarten equipped with fundamental skills they need to thrive in school. By bringing all communities into the network pilot ahead of schedule, we can put our entire focus on ensuring quality and equity for all families in Louisiana.”

In 2012, the legislature passed Act 3, requiring the creation of a unified network for early childhood care that would establish a common expectation for excellence among all publicly funded service providers, along with accountability for results. That same year, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved the state’s multi-year strategy to implement Act 3, the Early Childhood Care and Education Networks. BESE developed the strategy alongside the Department of Children and Family Services, Department of Health and Hospitals, BrightStart Early Childhood Advisory Council, Nonpublic School Commission, Head Start, and the Child Care Association of Louisiana.

Louisiana has made great progress since the passage of Act 3. Network Pilots in cohorts 1 and 2 have launched, leading the way in development. For the final phase of implementation by August 2015, the Department will work with network pilots to develop policies to fully unify the statewide early childhood system, which includes:

  • Unifying expectations for providers: All early learning centers operate under streamlined regulations with a Department-issued license; and, all publicly-funded programs are participating in the 2015-2016 learning year.

  • Supporting all teachers to be excellent: Every teacher has access to ongoing training, feedback, and coaching to improve; and, teacher use scholarships to obtain coursework at providers approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

  • Giving families equitable access to quality options: Community networks continue coordinating enrollment process for 2016-2017.

In October, the Department released sample report cards for early childhood programs and community networks. These report cards will ensure that parents have a clear and simple way to make choices based on how well early childhood programs support children’s development and learning in addition to health and safety practices. These sample report cards measure the quality of teacher-child interactions in classrooms, which can predict how well a program prepares children for kindergarten. They also include information on teacher preparation and practices, enrollment and family satisfaction. These report cards are being field tested in seven Community Network Pilots in 2014-2015 with the expectation that all publicly-funded programs will participate in a Learning Year for report cards in 2015-2016.

For more information on early childhood education in Louisiana, please click here.

For a presentation on the Early Childhood Policy Blueprint, please click here.

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