On February 7, 2023 local legislators and business leaders attended Early Learning Day or Early Ed Month Leadership Convening for Northwest Louisiana hosted by the United Way of Northwest Louisiana (UWNWLA), The Arc Caddo-Bossier’s Goldman School & Child Development Center, and the Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce as part of the annual 2023 Louisiana Early Ed Month happening throughout the month of February across Louisiana.
Today’s event, held in partnership between the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), the Louisiana Early Childhood Business Roundtable, Louisiana Association of United Ways (LAUW), and UWNWLA, gathered local policymakers, business leaders and partners in the Shreveport-Bossier community to place a spotlight on the critical and ongoing need to increase and improve access to quality early care and education for children, birth through age four, throughout the state.
“Our mission is to help our families achieve their potential and live healthy, financially stable lives. Providing children with a strong start in life and education while supporting parents in the workforce is foundational for thriving families,” said UWNWLA President & CEO LaToria Thomas. “With approximately 55% of ALICE parents struggling to make ends meet, robust investments in high-quality early care and education should be a priority for our state’s investments.”
One of Louisiana Early Ed Month’s signature events was held at The Arc Caddo-Bossier’s Goldman School & Child Development Center, which gave local legislators and business leaders in attendance a firsthand perspective of what high-quality early care and education look like, the challenges providers and families face, and the importance of supporting child care providers for Louisiana’s working families. Bossier City Mayor Tommy Chandler and Shreveport Mayor’s Office representative Camille McCall also issued a proclamation recognizing February 7 as Early Ed Day in Shreveport-Bossier. Afterward, attendees dispersed to read to children at the center, assemble snack packs for the children, or participate in a Q&A session featuring panelists LaToria Thomas, UWNWLA President & CEO; Dr. Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., LPIC Executive Director; Sarah Berthelot, LAUW President & CEO; and a parent of a child attending the childcare center.
“Louisiana loses over a billion dollars in productivity each year because children don’t have access to high-quality child care. This event allows us to demonstrate the importance of investing in early education in our state,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, Ph.D., LPIC Executive Director. “It’s important for Louisiana legislators and business leaders to connect with child care providers in order to understand the crucial role they play in serving children, families, businesses, and educators in their communities through early care and education programs.”
“As a parent of a child served by The Arc Caddo-Bossier’s Goldman School, I know first-hand the value of having highly trained, professional educators caring for our community’s children. While our students are learning and growing with us, parents and caregivers are spending their time working and contributing to Louisiana’s economy,” said Kristen Powers, Executive Director of The Arc Caddo-Bossier. “We are grateful for the awareness raised by the 2023 Early Ed Month and were honored to host this kickoff event as we continue to highlight the importance of serving children and their families in high quality centers. The Goldman School and Child Development Center has been around for nearly 70 years and is the model for inclusive early childhood educational services for children across the state. We have been nationally recognized for our approach and look forward to continuing to share best practices so that children with and without disabilities can learn and grow together.”
“At Louisiana Association of United Ways, we’ve seen firsthand the importance early care and education plays in the lives of our youngest learners and have advocated for this cause through the many challenges of these past few years,” said Sarah Berthelot, LAUW President and CEO. “Today, 60% of Louisiana children begin kindergarten behind their peers and children who begin school behind generally remain behind. Investing in early care and education will help ensure that more young children in Louisiana are entering school prepared. We urge legislators to act now to prioritize funding and access to quality early care and education – for the benefit of Northwest Louisiana, and our entire state.”
To learn more about early child care and education in Louisiana, please visit PolicyInstituteLA.com. Additionally, you can join in the conversation by using #LAEarlyEdMonth on social media.