Louisiana Works with Smart Start Leader to Pilot Early Childhood Initiative

Monday, February 11th, 2013 | Author: Tracy

The Louisiana Department of Education, along with the Department of Children and Family Services and Department of Health and Hospitals, released a Request for Applications (RFA) for communities to participate in a pilot program as part of the implementation of the Early Childhood Care and Education Network. The Community Network 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.

Karen Ponder, the former President of  The North Carolina Partnership for Children, Inc. has been working with the state. “I am pleased that Louisiana’s leaders recognize the importance of communities in meeting the needs of young children and families.  We learned from experience in North Carolina that taking a long-term perspective in building these networks is critically important.  Getting better outcomes requires a clear vision, the state and local communities working together toward the same goals for young children, and resources from both the public and private sectors to continue to build quality.  Having children fully prepared to succeed in school takes families, communities and the state working together.  This pilot should mark the beginning of a long term commitment.”

“Currently, only half of Louisiana’s children enter kindergarten ready to learn; this reality is unacceptable and must be addressed. This pilot program is an important first step towards setting high standards for our youngest learners and ensuring that all of Louisiana’s students have a solid educational foundation by empowering and supporting those closest to them, educators and parents. State policymakers made a vital commitment to the success of our children, and this pilot builds on the collaboration of communities across the state to make their commitment a reality,” said State Superintendent John White.

Baton Rouge parent, Mia Clark-Comager, a Stand for Children Parent Leader, echoed her support for the pilot, “As a parent of three children aged 6, 11 and 13 and also as an early childhood provider, I want what’s best for my own children and the children in my programs.  I know that giving all children access to a high quality pre-k program means that  they will get a strong start and enter kindergarten ready to learn rather than behind with no chance to catch up.  I am glad the model calls on communities to work together!  As a parent, I encourage this collaboration with a focus on improving early childhood program quality and the increased effort to provide parents with information that helps us take action and make decisions that put our children on a path to learning, achievement, and bright futures.

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