IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: LOUISIANA'S EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION ATTRACT MEDIA ATTENTION, INSPIRE INCREASED DISCUSSION

Jan 25, 2018

BATON ROUGE, La. - The Louisiana Department of Education's initiatives to increase early childhood education quality have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, attracting attention from local, state and national media and inspiring increased discussion about access and demand.

In November, the state released the Louisiana School Finder, an interactive, first-of-its-kind online tool designed to help families more easily locate and evaluate schools and child care centers across the state. Among its many features, the new system offers performance profiles for all publicly funded early childhood programs in the state, including early childhood centers, Head Start and prekindergarten. It provides families with the site's overall performance rating, as well as a snapshot of the learning environment, teaching staff, student-to-teacher ratios and curriculum quality. The tool is the first of its kind in the nation and can be accessed at louisianaschools.com.  

Louisiana's focus on improving the overall quality of early childhood education elevates issues of access. In response to overwhelming demand from working parents and a shortage of funds, in July 2017, the Department established a wait list for eligible families applying to the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). More than 2,000 working families are currently on the wait list and more are being added each day. As a result, these families often have to put their children in unlicensed care and miss work, reduce their hours or quit. Their children are less likely to participate in a quality early childhood program that prepares them for kindergarten. 

Louisiana Public Broadcasting recently invited educators, parents, policymakers and business and community leaders to discuss these intersecting topics on "Louisiana Public Square." State Superintendent John White was among the panelists. The episode, "Early Education Matters," is now available online. 

Other local, state and national media outlets have also taken note. Among the headlines:

Louisiana Releases New Tool to Help Parents Find Good Early Learning Options (Education Week)

Child Care Costs Force Parents to Make Tough Decisions (WWNO)

Are New Orleans Toddlers Getting Quality Instruction? (WWNO)

Louisiana's Early Childhood Education Centers Have a New Ranking System (NOLA.com)

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

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