Every Early Childhood Community Network has a lead agency that facilitates the coordinated leadership functions for the community. Lead Agencies coordinate local CLASS
™ observations for publicly-funded sites, facilitate the coordinated enrollment process, conduct community meetings, and distribute communication from the Department.
Early Childhood Community Networks improve family access to high-quality early learning experiences for children and increase support for programs.
By empowering families with choice and raising the bar for all early childhood programs, Louisiana seeks to have every child prepared to enter and succeed in kindergarten.
What are ready Start Networks?
Before the passage of Act 3 in 2012, Louisiana had no unified statewide system of early childhood care and education. In 2013, the state introduced the early childhood Community Network model that is now in place. Today, Louisiana has 65 early childhood Community Networks representing the entire state. Each network is led by a "lead agency," a state-approved entity, such as a school system or organization, which serves as the point of contact for local care providers and as the liaison with the state education department. Currently, lead agencies serve a primarily administrative role, overseeing data collection and reporting, ensuring the observations that inform annual performance profiles are conducted twice a year and coordinating enrollment.
"Louisiana recognizes that communities, rather than the state, are best suited to address the unique early childhood care and education needs of their families and children," said State Superintendent John White. "When those unique needs are met, more children enter Kindergarten prepared, and in turn, more children are positioned for success in the early elementary grades and beyond."
"A strong early childhood education system is key--for the development of our youngest learners and for our state's workforce” stated Rep. Stephanie Hilferty (R-Metairie), who sponsored the legislation that prompted the creation of the pilots.
"The Rapides Early Childhood Network is thrilled to be a Ready Start Community Network pilot. We were part of the initial network pilots in 2013 with the passage of Act 3 and feel strongly that this work is the next step in empowering our community toward ensuring that every family has access to quality care," said Cindy Rushing, early childhood coordinator for the Rapides Parish School System. "Our community network is poised for more local responsibility and to find innovative solutions and resources that are critical for quality improvements for children birth to age 5."