Wanda Holmes, the new Family Community Engagement Coordinator for the Natchitoches Parish Early Childhood Network; Cassaundra Anderson, Supervisor of Early Childhood Education; and Amy Roberson, Early Childhood Coordinator for the City of Natchitoches, visited with the Natchitoches City Council at its meeting on Jan. 10 to advocate for early childhood care and education for Natchitoches Parish.
Their goal is to increase understanding of the importance of supporting early childhood education. Ninety percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 5. Research shows that providing high quality education for children before they turn 5 yields significant long term benefits. Children in a high quality early childhood program are less likely to repeat a grade, 2 times more likely to be prepared academically for later grades, 48% more likely to have an associate degree, 23% more likely to get a bachelor degree and receive higher earnings in the workforce.
The Louisiana Legislature passed Act 3 several years ago to ensure high quality early childhood programs are available for all children in Natchitoches Parish and to make sure that every child enters Kindergarten ready to learn.
Low income families can apply for childcare assistance. The Network also received $1 million in grants over the last academic year. This allowed 50 additional families to be blessed with full tuition rates for enrollment in area centers. There are hopes to increase these numbers in the coming year. Other funding will help Type III Childcare teachers that don’t receive tax credits like teachers in the public school system.
Former Natchitoches Mayor Lee Posey and Holmes have worked on another exciting piece, the Community Supply Building Access and Expansion grant. This has allowed the network to have a pilot school at Fairview Alpha in the 2022-23 academic year to bring children ages birth-2 years old in the program in the school system. The Network has also spoken to administration at LP Vaughn about potentially beginning another pilot program.
On Saturday, Jan. 29, Natchitoches Parish Early Childhood Network representatives will be at the Campti Library branch from 11 am-12 pm with information for parents, who are welcome to register their children for these upcoming pilot programs.