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Local Legislators and Business Leaders Join United Way of Northwest Louisiana to Recognize Virtual Louisiana Early Ed Week

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oday, legislators and business leaders from across the state joined for a virtual child care center tour in recognition of the fourth annual “LA Early Ed Week” sponsored by Entergy— moved to an online format this year as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Additional sponsors for Early Ed Week 2021 include The Committee of 100 for Economic Development, Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company, Jones Walker LLP, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, Clara’s Little Lambs, Cox Communications, Imagine Learning, Save the Children Action Network, and Stand for Children Louisiana.

Held in partnership between the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children (LPIC), the Louisiana Early Childhood Business Roundtable, Capital Area United Way, Louisiana Association of United Ways, United Way of Acadiana, United Way of Northeast Louisiana, United Way of Northwest Louisiana, United Way of Southeast Louisiana, United Way of Southwest Louisiana and Nicholls State University, LA Early Ed Week is an opportunity to further educate state and local policymakers and business leaders 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. This year’s Early Ed Week is especially critical as Louisiana’s childcare sector is in an even more precarious financial state than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am thankful we were able to come together as a state today to discuss the critical need of early childhood education,” said Bruce Willson, president & CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana. “While it may not seem like an urgent matter amidst the pandemic, it will have a lasting impact on our community. Taking the time now to invest in improving early childcare centers and providing the tools necessary for learning to young children, will in return, give children the skills they need for success, give their caretakers comfort in knowing their child is in a safe and beneficial environment, and improve the setback of education due to COVID-19.”

Today’s event allowed participants to join regional breakout rooms to virtually meet with childcare center directors and hear from the state’s leading elected officials and fellow business leaders. Program attendees also heard firsthand perspectives from leading childcare providers as to what high-quality early care and education looks like, insight into the challenges providers have faced throughout the pandemic, and a greater understanding about the importance of providing access to these centers and education offerings for the state’s youngest children.

“Seeing what goes on in an early childcare and education center gives us the perspective necessary to realize how important this service is to our youngest learners,” said Dr. Libbie Sonnier, executive director of the Louisiana Policy Institute for Children. “Children in a quality care setting are not just being ‘babysat,’ they are developing the crucial social and developmental skills they

will need to succeed in school and in life. The educators who work in an early care and education program not only help put children on the path to success, but they allow children’s caregivers to go back to work with the knowledge that their children are safe and learning. We appreciate all of the legislators and business leaders across the state who joined us today in an effort to further understand the importance of this industry.”

Following brief introductory remarks from Governor John Bel Edwards and Superintendent of Education, Cade Brumley, today’s attendees were given a virtual tour of Children’s Palace Learning Academy in New Orleans and Southside Child Development Center in Baton Rouge. Legislators and business leaders in attendance then had the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversation via breakout sessions organized by region.

Additional Louisiana Early Ed Week events include a keynote address by Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, a social media day of action, a parent forum, and a business breakfast.

To learn more about early childcare and education in Louisiana, please visit PolicyInstituteLA.org. Additionally, you can join in the conversation by using #LAEarlyEdWeek on social media.

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